Buttigieg offers solutions to mental health/addiction crisis

2020 Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg said a lack of capacity and the stigma were why only half of those with mental illness or addiction ever get treatement. During a telephone interview, Buttigieg outlined his comprehensive mental health plan that he’ll discuss when he starts a three-day visit Friday afternoon at the American Legion Sweeney Post in Manchester.

DOVER — More than 800 people turned out Friday morning to see Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak at Henry Law Park.

Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate from South Bend, Ind., began by talking about values, freedom and faith.

“Right now, we have politicians who cloak themselves in the language of religion, and then set out to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable. It’s not right under any version of ethics and we’re going to change that and remind people that religion doesn’t have to push you into the arms of the religious right,” he said.

Buttigieg answered questions from the crowd about the importance of voting, the U.S. Supreme Court, his Douglass Plan to tackle systemic racism and student debt.

When asked about gun control, Buttigieg said 90% of Americans think there ought to be universal background checks.

“We know we need universal background checks. We know that we need red flag laws that disarm domestic abusers, and this is a common sense position. And yes, there are weapons — weapons like some of the things I trained on in the military, weapons of war — that have no place in American streets and neighborhoods, least of all anywhere near our schools,” Buttigieg said.

Asked what he’d do to address the so-called opioid epidemic, Buttigieg spoke about better treatment of pain and addiction.

“What we need is not just the right kind of treatment for pain, but more people certified in the treatment for addiction,” he said. “We’ve finally begun to figure out, as a country, that we can’t criminalize addiction and expect it to get better. That’s why we need medically assisted therapy. It’s why we need more doctors qualified and certified to prescribe things like suboxone in order to help people deal with addiction.”

During the event, Buttigieg noticed a family from Rochester holding a sign that read, “3 Generations for Pete, 2020.” John and Anne-Marie McKenna were with their daughter, Brittany Dickson, and their 10-year-old granddaughter, Priscilla Dickson.

Asked why they came out to see Buttigieg, Anne-Marie McKenna said, “He mirrors our values; and of all the big candidates, and there are a lot, I think he is the one with the vision to make the world a better place.”

McKenna, who is in her 60s, said she was skeptical of Buttigieg because of his age at first, but then she learned more about him.

“He was born to serve,” she said of the 37-year-old.

Also in the crowd was Daniel Norwood, who rode his bicycle 30 miles from Acton, Maine, to attend the rally. He made quick friends with Ann Haddock of Barrington. Both of them support Buttigieg’s message.

“I’m impressed with his intellect. He’s very intelligent. He’s a vet, he’s gay, he’s Christian. I think that’s a message people in our country need to hear,” Haddock said of Buttigieg.

Buttigieg also attended a barn party in Rye, took a tour of downtown Rochester and appeared at an event in Laconia on Friday.

This was his eighth visit to the Granite State as he seeks the Democratic nomination.