On Jan. 4, State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill District, brought together newly elected State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-East Liberty, District 6 City Councilman Daniel Lavelle, and District 9 City Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess for an editorial board meeting with the New Pittsburgh Courier. While the meeting demonstrated the four men’s commitment to working together in the new year, it also served as a platform for them to discuss their upcoming projects.
The consensus among the group was for development to become a top priority in African-American communities. While the local representatives shared progress on their development projects, Wheatley focused on ensuring African-Americans gain job opportunities through these new projects.
“If we don’t make sure we invest in human capital to be able to take advantage of these things, we’re really wasting our time,” Wheatley said. “We try to connect folks to opportunities. Every community needs jobs, it’s not just a Black, White issue.”
For his part, Wheatley has been active in connecting his constituents with workforce training like a Marcellus Shale training program in the North Side. On the broader scale he said he would like to see the Pittsburgh public schools focus more on career and technical training.
“I don’t push kids to get a four year degree. I’ve always said every child should have a hard skill when they finish high school,” Wheatley said. “I think we can be very strategic in how we train students.”
During his tenure Wheatley has served on a number of House committees including education, human services, and most recently the Pennsylvania Legislative Hunger Caucus. During his time with the House Select Committee on Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Inclusion, legislation was introduced to improve MWDBE participation in state contracts and purchasing.