For the first time in several years we have a mayoral race in which we have a real choice between three strong candidates, and anyone can win. These men can make a huge difference in the city as a whole and the Black community in particular.

We also have very important School Board races and a City Council race in District 6, which means that in this race, much like the presidential race, every vote is important. Making up nearly 30 percent of the population, the Black vote can make the difference in what should be a very close three-man race.

The two favorites are Jack Wagner and Bill Peduto, but don’t count out Jake Wheatley.

All three men have governmental experience. Peduto has nearly 20 years as a city councilman; Wagner, 40, as a city councilman, state senator, and auditor general; and Wheatley, 10, as a state representative.

All three men made it clear that they would work very closely with community leaders in every community to make sure their concerns are addressed.

Whoever wins will be confronted with a huge challenge to bring the Black communities up to equal standards with the White community. We have suffered through years of political neglect in communities such as Lincoln-Larimer, Homewood, Beltzhoover and parts of the North Side, to mention a few. While Downtown and other White communities have grown to the point where Pittsburgh has consistently been selected as Most Livable City and received other high recognitions, the Black community has not been included in this progress. This leads us to employment and education. Our challenge to the new leader is to make sure Blacks are included in every area of employment and management in the city, especially the police and fire departments. There are many highly qualified Blacks throughout the city and other places who would be more than willing to serve. They just need to be asked.

We feel that either of the three will make a good mayor as long as pressure is kept on them to address the severe problems facing the Black neighborhoods and communities of unemployment, blight, and poor education.

Even though Wheatley is a strong candidate and was impressive in his concerns for the Black community and how he would solve the many problems confronting them, we simply don’t think Whites are going to vote for a Black man in large enough numbers, especially a man who entered the race late with little to no money to get his name and message through to the parts of the city that don’t know him. That brought the decision down to Wagner and Peduto.

Even though we have some serious concerns about Peduto’s commitment to the Black community, and his ability to work with Black elected officials, he has accumulated an impressive variety of Black elected support led by such names as Bill Robinson, Ed Gainey, and Valerie McDonald Roberts. This is not just support on paper, they have been willing to come out in support of him at various public functions, which means if elected he will owe a lot to the Black community and Black leaders. This will be a starting point in getting some of the many devastating problems solved in the Black communities throughout this city, because these are not just token leaders supporting him, many are the backbone of our community.

We are not saying Wagner would not make a good mayor, and that the city will be devastated if he wins. We are saying that among three good men, Peduto is our choice because we haven’t heard anything from Wagner to say he’s a better choice, and we don’t see high profile Black leaders in support of him.

We do issue the challenge to Peduto or Wagner, whoever wins, that in your effort to keep Pittsburgh moving forward in education, business, economic development, and employment, remember the Hill District, Homewood, Lincoln-Larimer, East Liberty, Manchester, Beltzhoover, and the lower and central North Side. It’s well past time for Blacks in this city to start enjoying the fruits of their labor the same as the Whites. It’s time Blacks are included among The Most Livable communities in Pittsburgh. The conditions for the masses of Blacks in this city are outrageous in comparison to Whites, and we must hold whoever becomes mayor accountable.

In the City Council District 6 race the choice is clear, R. Daniel Lavelle. This is a young rising star who has an excellent record since he took office and has gained the respect from residents not only throughout the Hill but also the lower and central North Side as well as the Oakland area and Downtown. There’s nothing his opponents, Tonya Payne or Franco Dok Harris can bring to the table that will come close to his accomplishments.

In the School District races the two important ones for Blacks are: Thomas Sumpter, District 3, who is unopposed; and District 1 where there should be a strong race between Sylvia Wilson and Lucille Prater-Holliday.

Another important race is the District Magistrate 05-2-28 in which Oscar Petite has done an excellent job over the past 17 years. This district serves Oakland, the Hill District, Uptown, Downtown, and the Strip. Petite has earned the right to be voted back into office.

Attorney Rosemary Crawford is the lone Black running for judge. She’s running for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

No matter whom you support in the mayoral race, make sure your vote counts. And the only way that can happen is that you go out and vote. Otherwise you have no say.

Your comments are welcome.

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