“When I was on Council I created a one-stop shop for employment and made sure we were talking to the developers at Consol before any work started,” she said. “I did the same thing at the Casino. We have to do that every time development comes to our neighborhood.”
Lavelle said he was responsible for ensuring that 20 percent of the jobs at the Consol Center went to Hill residents and that a union represents them. And he said he was committed to working with churches and community groups to make sure more Blacks are prepared to benefit from new job and business creation.
“We can’t just leave it to the schools, we all have to be involved,” he said. “We can help folks like Kris Kirk and Reggie Good who are taking brothers off the streets and getting them Marcellus Shale jobs.”
That dovetailed into the mayoral candidates’ segment of the forum with all agreeing that, while they don’t control the school district, it should do more to prepare students, especially Black students, for the energy industry jobs that don’t require a college or advanced degree.
Councilman Bill Peduto told of his grandparents working in the steel mills their whole lives.
“That city is gone. The city that’s coming is the one I’ve worked to rebuild since I met with business owners in East Liberty in 1996,” he said. “We’ve had $2 billion in growth in my district, but that needs to happen everywhere, and it can.”
State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill, said he’s passed legislation requiring minority participation in state contracting, and that his record on Black inclusion is much better than Peduto’s or former Auditor Gen. Jack Wagner.
“And that Marcellus program of Kris Kirk’s, that was started with funding from Jake Wheatley,” he said. “I’m going off the script here, but here’s the thing; if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll get the same results. I’m here to make a difference.”
When the applause subsided, Wagner, who touted his management experience as a US Marine, in the private sector, in city council and in state government as the key for getting the city to work for its residents, got off the best laugh line of the evening saying he appreciated Wheatley’s work.
“I like Jake. He is a tremendous asset in Harrisburg. And I hope he stays there,” he said.
Wagner added his administration, and authority and board appointments would reflect the city’s Black population. He said the police bureau should actively recruit from the military to find experienced Black candidates.
All three candidates again said they would move to remove guns from the streets; Peduto touting his “Lost and Stolen” gun law and Wagner reminding the audience that he passed an assault-weapons ban while on council in 1993.
The mayoral candidates are scheduled to meet again addressing Black community issues with the Black Agenda forum April 19 at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, the African American Chamber of Commerce May 2, and with the Community Empowerment Association May 15.
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