Tonya Payne, who served one term as Pittsburgh’s City Council’s District 6 representative before losing her seat to R. Daniel Lavelle four years ago, said when she left office, she left some work undone. And, as they are still undone, she wants the voters to send her back to finish the job.
“District 6 needs a strong voice on council who will work hard and fight hard for the things the community needs, not someone who sits there quietly and produces nothing,” she said. “These development projects he’s talking about were already in the hopper. All he had to do was show up and cut the ribbon.”
Payne is also reminding voters that Lavelle was convicted of misdemeanor election law violations for submitting fraudulent petitions for state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill, in his 2010 re-election campaign.
“Council representatives should be law makers, not law breakers,” she said. “We can’t afford another four years of someone with no integrity, who’s not interested in doing the work.”
Of her other opponent, Franco “Dok” Harris, Payne said he’s a nice guy, but grew up in the suburbs and only recently came back to the city.
“He and Danny could be twins. They had everything given to them,” she said. “I am the opposite: a woman, a single parent who worked hard. I know what it is to leave work early to go to the PTA, to save up to buy a washing machine or a mattress. They didn’t work for anything,”
If elected, Payne said she would concentrate on reducing homelessness and gun violence, the two things she meant to finish during her first term.
“I was putting together a coalition of agencies to make sure people could get the help and services they need to keep their homes. People who land on hard times shouldn’t land on the street, especially if they have kids,” she said.
As for gun violence, Payne said kids hanging on the street need mentoring, education and employment options they do not have now. She would include similar intervention and education for parents.
“It all begins at home. We have to get them while they’re young, before they get into trouble,” she said. “But it goes to the (Pittsburgh Public) school district too. The city has to find a way to influence or work with the board because it’s a shambles. The solution can’t just be shutting down schools and having 50 percent of African-American students drop out. That’s insane.”
But before she’d tackle either of those issues, Payne said the first thing she would ask the mayor and council to work on would be cleaning up the Bureau of Police.
“We have to change the policies and end the corruption,” she said. “That’s first. That’s how I plan to help the community. I need their help and their vote on May 21 to do it.”
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