Newly sworn in state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-East Liberty, said that though he hopes to work on several fronts to bring services to the 24th Legislative District, he is still a freshman legislator and will need to look to others for guidance and assistance as he learns the ropes.
During a New Pittsburgh Courier editorial board meeting initiated by his colleague state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill District, Gainey covered a variety of issues ranging from gun control to economic development, and stressed the need to work cooperatively with state House members from both parties.
“We may disagree on a whole host of issues, but even so, I know there is common ground,” he said. “I have to focus on that; here’s where we can help each other, and our constituents. I have to learn the art of the deal. More than that, I have to learn what’s successful and how to replicate that.”
Gainey said he would look to Wheatley for guidance and thanked him for arranging the Courier meeting, which also included Pittsburgh Councilmen Rev. Ricky Burgess and R. Daniel Lavelle. Burgess, whose district Gainey’s overlaps, said he expects to have a great working relationship with Gainey, especially on economic development.
“Ed brings a fresh insight and an ability to articulate concerns that can mean bringing more resources to the community,” said Burgess.
Gainey said he’d like to bring resources to the district that can impact education and public transit, which are also two of the committee assignments he has requested. Whether he receives either one or not, he will learn Jan. 14.
“Transportation is a huge issue for the district because we have a lot of seniors and low-income residents who rely on buses,” he said. “The rural areas want to spend on roads and bridges more and urban areas want to do more on mass transit. This is one of those areas where I have to find that common ground.”
In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings, he said that it may be more possible, in terms of gun control legislation, than at any time before in Harrisburg.
“In my neighborhood gun violence is devastating. We had a guy machine-gunned on the street last week,” he said. “I’m working on a initiative with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to address mental health and violence and would like to bring an educational program like Philadelphia used to have that helps youth un-learn the learned behavior of violence.”
Gainey also said education, and its funding needs to be tailored toward industries that are booming like those related to technology and shale gas production. He again mentioned cooperative public/private partnerships such as the one Wheatley assisted with last spring that brought Marcellus training specifically to unemployed Blacks on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
Gainey also thanked Wheatley for his outreach to the Courier, saying it is a vital resource that will allow him to communicate more directly with his constituents.
“Even if it’s little bullet points about legislation, using Twitter, Facebook—which the Courier uses too—to address issues and people in the district,” he said. “Hopefully Jake and I and the councilmen can come together with the Courier like this on some kind of regular basis, maybe quarterly.”
(Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)