By Justin Chermol

There's a small-town mayor running for president and his name isn't Pete Buttigeig.

Mayor Wayne Messam, a Democrat from Miramar, Fla., may not be as well known as Mayor Pete, but he's confident his simple pitch will appeal to voters looking to make it in the new economy.

"We have a gig economy that we are entering into, and there's no plan that's coming out of Washington in terms of how to prepare," Messam said Wednesday in an interview with Cheddar.

Messam, the son of Jamaican immigrants, was elected mayor of Miramar in 2015, ousting a 16-year incumbent. The city, home to 150,000 people in Southeast Florida, isn't the typical launching pad for presidential campaigns. But Messam, who announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president on Twitter last month, wants to use his campaign to appeal to young voters. He aims to end the student loan crisis, fight climate change, and foster the country's emerging gig-economy.

"I am committed as president that I will make it a priority that we are driving this discussion, that America will be the leaders in this innovation, because we have the brightest minds, we have the greatest potential, and our young generation are going to usher us into this new era," Messam told Cheddar.

Eliminating student debt is at the heart of Messam's campaign. The outstanding student debt surpassed $1.5 trillion last year, with one in six college graduates owing more than their income. Messam said the debt is "crippling our society as well as hampering Americans' ability for economic mobility."

"We are looking at actually repealing the Trump tax cuts that estimates are around $2 trillion on tax breaks to the corporations and richest of Americans and we want to make sure we can use those resources to wipe out this debt," he said.

Messam, 44, owns a small construction company. He was a wide receiver on Florida State University's 1993 national championship team.

With the NCAA basketball tournaments approaching their penultimate stages, and as Congress continues to discuss the possibility of allowing student-athletes to be paid, Messam said he supports compensating some student-athletes. College sports have evolved into big business.

"For those players that actually have their number, and their namesake, that generates revenue through licensing deals, through the NCAA, and their respective universities, I think there should be some compensation for those players that have earned that popularity, because it's a business," Messam said.

He's already received campaign donations from people in 40 different states, Messam said, but he still needs to raise money from 65,000 unique donors in order to be eligible to participate in the Democratic primary debates.