In last week’s primary election, District 9 Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess faced opposition from Phyllis Copeland-Mitchell, the Allegheny Democratic Committee’s endorsed candidate; and Lucille Prater-Holliday, the president of non-profit activism group Action United. Following suit with his fellow incumbent council members, who were also passed over for the Democratic Committee’s endorsement, Burgess defeated his opponents, taking nearly 50 percent of the vote.


“I believe the voters in my district have signaled by their vote, their desire for me to continue this work,” Burgess said. “I want to rebuild Homewood, Lincoln, Lemington and Larimer. Those are areas where there is desperate need of housing, stores and changing the fabric of that community.”

The “11th hour” of the campaign, the days before the election on May 17, featured some of the race’s most controversial moments. On May 15 an email was circulated by the Prater-Holliday campaign alleging “illegal campaign tactics.” To date, these allegations have not been traced back to either of her opponents.

A few days earlier, 12th Ward Democratic Committee Chair Jacque Fielder, one of Copeland-Mitchell’s key campaign contributors, circulated an editorial cartoon via email. The cartoon depicted Burgess as a bird eating a frog labeled at the residents of the district, with Prater-Holliday labeled as a reed growing in the grass of the bird’s feet.

“During the campaign I knocked on 9000 doors and talked to people,” Burgess said of his opponent’s criticism. “I will use those conversations and my fresh look at the community in order to be more responsive to their needs and desires.”

Burgess has already moved on past his opponents’ criticism.

“We can use the strength of surrounding communities to develop these communities. We have I believe a unanimous consent in the community so we just need our partners,” Burgess said. “I’ve already put seed money into community organizations. I believe those natural community resources are able to develop the city.”

In his first term, Burgess has been focused on reducing crime in his district. Together with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, he formed the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime, and although the program has only been functioning for less than a year, Burgess believes the city is already starting to see its effects.

While Burgess has his eyes set on redeveloping his district, many would agree the current economic climate could hinder development plans in any neighborhood of the city.

“I’m looking for all available resources from county, state, and federal,” Burgess said. “The greater Homewood community is the single poorest community in the city. I believe during a time of economic crisis, those communities with the largest burden should be the places that receive the most resources.”

Prater-Holliday received 32 percent of the votes, and Copeland-Mitchell received nearly 18 percent.

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