HEIR APPARENTS—Pittsburgh mayoral candidates, from left: Jake Wheatley, Bill Peduto and Jack Wagner, wait to ask Hill District residents to vote them into the city’s top elected office. (Photo by J.L. Martello.)
The sound of Wesley Center AMEZ Church’s choir was lively enough to inspire dancing from some of the homeless center residents across the street and definitely enthused the audience inside as, for the second time in just three days, candidates for Mayor of Pittsburgh, city council and school board asked Hill District residents to support their bids for election.
The forum, sponsored by the Hill District Ministers Alliance, focused on addressing the economic and human development issues facing African-Americans in the Hill and throughout the city.
After a warm welcome by Wesley Center pastor Rev. Glenn Grayson, thanking the assembled clergy, guests and his choir, Pittsburgh School Board Director Tom Sumpter, who is running unopposed, made his opening statement before fielding the first of the alliance’s prepared questions, as well as those from two district students and from the audience.
Sumpter said he planned to continue working to craft policy that would close the achievement gap for Black students and deliver a quality education for all students while maintaining the district’s fiscal integrity.
Tonya Payne, who is running to regain the District 6 City Council seat R. Daniel Lavelle won from her four years ago, told the audience she wanted to address the unfinished business of gun violence and homelessness. But ensuring inclusion for Blacks in the district’s economic development dominated her and Lavelle’s time.