For several years Ed Gainey has served as community development specialist for the City of Pittsburgh. Now he hopes to use his experience in community development to bring about change for the people of the 24th legislative district.
Gainey is running against incumbent Joseph Preston for state representative of the 24th District. He said he decided to run in the election because he doesn’t believe the district is being adequately served by its current representative.
“I believe the district needs new leadership and new vision,” said Gainey. “We need somebody whose accessible, whose going to be on the ground to listen to the people, to be able to communicate different things going on at the state level.”
Gainey said the most pressing issues in the 24th District are redevelopment, the ability to invest in projects and public safety. Noting the correlation between poor living conditions and violence, he said the key to improving neighborhoods like the 24th District’s Lincoln Larimer, should begin with community development.
“I’m working on community development plans and looking at projects that are ready to go and making sure we have what we need to get them off the ground,” Gainey said. “If people see change, it develops hope. The more we begin to redevelop the abandoned homes, the more we are able to remove the blight, the more hope it gives. I don’t believe the political capital has been invested directly, which means not having the discussion about the projects you want to see done. If you look at the past 10 years and there’s no project that have been done, it’s time to change it.”
When asked what sets him apart from his opponent Preston, Gainey said he has the ability to produce positive change in the 24th District.
“It’s my ability to work with people, my ability to know the issues in the community, I’m solution driven,” Gainey said. “I’ve worked for the mayor. I’ve worked with state representatives to get different projects done in the neighborhoods.”
Gainey said his first step, if elected, would be to increase communication between himself and his constituents. As the chairman of the Pittsburgh City Democratic Committee, one of Gainey’s key functions is to communicate information to Democratic voters throughout the region.
“The number one thing is communication,” Gainey said. “Take the Voter ID bill; it’s a blatant attack on civil rights. We need to communicate to people exactly what it entails so we’re being proactive. We’ve fought for this right for too long.”
Like many elections, the race for the 24th District came with its own set of controversy. Gainey’s opponent was accused of forging signatures on his petition to get his name on the ballot. In the end, the Commonwealth Court ruled that Preston had 308 valid signatures, eight more than the 300 required, after his legal team withdrew two pages of signatures.
“We know there were forged signature on his petition. We have signed affidavits from 16 people who said they did not sign his petition. They threw out the signed petitions, so they admitted they were forged,” Gainey said. “We went door to door, we talked to the people, we heard their concerns and their needs, I’ll be the first to admit it’s a lot of work, but it’s an opportunity to talk to them, not just to get signatures. That’s what I mean about being accessible.”