Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto said he deserves your vote in the upcoming mayoral primary because he is dedicated solely to a vision of a revitalized city that works for all its residents.
“I have no real social life, I’m not married, and I have no family other than my mom. I still play a little hockey and I travel a lot, but most days you’ll find me meeting with people in a church basement or talking with a community organization in some part of the city,” he told the New Pittsburgh Courier editorial board. “For 20 years I’ve had my hands on building out the East End and I want to do the same for the whole city, but it has to be driven by the communities, not by what developers or Downtown wants.”
To assist in that, Peduto said he would create an entrepreneurial department inside the Urban Redevelopment Authority to support small business creation. He also envisions a campus in Homewood, centered on the former Holy Rosary School and the Carnegie Library that would take advantage of the potential pool of currently unemployed talent and agencies like the Community Empowerment Association that could teach them the roofing, plumbing, plastering trades needed to restore the neighborhood’s housing stock.
He said he would use the same community-driven approach in selecting a new police chief.
“I would conduct a national search, using both professional standards and criteria establish by residents—what they want in a chief. I’d select the best match to both,” he said.
A community policing approach, he said, would also help address crime in communities like Homewood.
“I would like the Zone commanders have the ability to offer more flex-time to officers and would waive the residency requirement for officers after a certain amount of service,” he said.
Still, Peduto admitted, the city’s transformation into a medical, financial, technology and energy business center has not included African-Americans. He said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s support for Bus Rapid Transit between Oakland and Downtown is an example.
“He would have it go out Fifth or Forbes Avenue, essentially bypassing the Hill. Why not Centre Avenue,” he said. “And UPMC is looking for a new building site in Uptown, Why not the Hill? The city is in transition, but not for everyone.”
Peduto said as mayor, he would support more targeted education and training opportunities. He said the Pittsburgh Public Schools needs a vocational/technical school.
Though the city can’t make the district do that, and doesn’t have the money to pay for such endeavors itself, large nonprofits like UPMC could channel their charitable contributions to community nonprofits so that Blacks get more of that training. He also said Community Development Block Grants need to go to the poor Black communities they were intended for, and could be used for educational and wrap around services for at-risk youth
Asked what the most significant thing he’s done for the Black community, Peduto said renovating Mellon Park, allowing for more interaction between residents of previously separate Black and White neighborhoods.
He said his involvement with city issues makes him a better choice for mayor than either former state Auditor General Jack Wagner or state Rep. Jake Wheatley.
“Jack may have had that, but it was 20 years ago,” he said. “Jake has been great on urban affairs, but that work has been in Harrisburg, and he’s still needed there.”
The Democratic Primary election is May 21.
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