STEPPING DOWN–Mayor Luke Ravenstahl speaks at a news conference at his office in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic/FILE)
During a Press Conference at the Pittsburgh City-County Building on March 1, City of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced that he would not be seeking re-election for his office. This comes after he announced his campaign for re-election less than two weeks ago.
Ravenstahl, 33, cited the toll that the job takes on himself, his family and those closest to him as the reason for his decision, not the recent investigation into the Pittsburgh Police and their alleged improper use of funds.
“After a careful and considerable amount of consideration I have decided that that price has become too great to endure. As a result I am dropping my bid for re-election,” Ravenstahl said with his parents at his side.
“Many will speculate about my motive and conclude the investigation is the reason for my decision. It is not because I have done nothing wrong. That will be proven over time. I understand that this is the current state of politics and the toll that takes on one’s person and on one’s family has become too great for me and us to endure.”
It was just last week that Mayor Ravenstahl asked for the resignation of Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper and allegations began to arise of the improper use of security and funding.
Ravenstahl, the youngest mayor in history, stepped into his position in 2006 after the death of Mayor Bob O’Connor as the Pittsburgh city council president, and won a special election in 2007 and his latest term in 2009. He began his career in politics at the age of 23, when he ran and won a spot on City Council in 2004 and became county council president one year later.
Democrats City Councilman Bill Peduto and City Controller Michael Lamb have already launched their campaign for mayor.
Ravenstahl has struggled with family-related issues in office before. His seven-year marriage to a high school sweetheart ended in 2011, with Ravenstahl saying his wife was uncomfortable with his political career and the limelight.
Ravenstahl is also dealing with a federal investigation of city police business. Ravenstahl has said he’s not a target of the FBI probe, which is believed to center on a fund the police bureau kept for fees that bars and other businesses paid the city for using its off-duty police officers as security guard. That money was then spent on various city activities, including expense accounts for the mayor’s bodyguards.
Ravenstahl said the rigors of denying wrongdoing in the wake of such reports played a large part in his decision saying he and his staff were “spending more time doing things or responding to things that are simply false that are harmful and hurtful” than on city business.
“It’s something that is the nature of the business, but something that, you know, clearly is what I guess I enjoy the least about the business,” Ravenstahl said.
The mayor also said reports that his mother’s health led to his decision were untrue, gesturing to his left where she stood without detailing those problems.
“Also as you can see, my mom is great, she looks amazing. … She does have some medical issues that she is dealing with, but I am confident that she will overcome and defeat them,” he said.
In response to the announcement Peduto said, “I understand how difficult of a decision this was and would like to extend our sincere best wishes to Luke Ravenstahl and his family. My campaign will continue to focus on taking Pittsburgh in a better direction and making the city the most livable for all of our residents.”
“I understand this was a difficult decision for Mayor Ravenstahl to make today. I respect the choice he has made, and wish the best for the Ravenstahl family,” Lamb said in a statement. “As our city continues to face serious challenges, I hope to work with the Mayor, his Administration, and City Council for the remainder of his term toward our common goal of improving Pittsburgh and the lives of the people who call it home.”
While he said he will not rule out participating in politics in the future, he said his next step will be to coach his son’s T-ball league, which is his first job, and that he will continue to be a resident of the city of Pittsburgh.
“I am happy and really excited about my future.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.