Wilkinsburg has a perception problem.
Those are the sentiments of Marita Garrett, vice-president of the Wilkinsburg borough council and one of four candidates running for mayor.
She wants to be the catalyst for changing that perception.
“A lot of people, because the news will be very quick to come if they hear about a shooting (have that perception of Wilkinsburg),” Garrett said. “But they don’t realize crime has actually gone down.”
Garrett said of the 12 homicides that occurred last year, six were from the Franklin Avenue shooting, one involved a Port Authority police officer in the Bruce Kelley Jr. shooting, and of the remaining five homicides, only two remain unsolved.
“We have block watch expansion meetings that happen every other week, citizens police academy, local government week…So it’s about getting the community engaged and educated so that they can be better informed…and also know how to combat against violent crimes,” Garrett said.
Garrett, Michael Johnson, Andre Scott, and James Truedell Hayden are the four candidates vying for mayor. John Thompson is stepping down after serving as mayor since 2006.
“Being on Council for the past four years, we’re in a transitional place right now,” Garrett said of Wilkinsburg. “It’s really important that we make sure we are moving forward. We have some great things going on right now, but like we see with any election, things can change in a minute. So, I am running for mayor to make sure we have a visible and proactive advocate in this, and making sure that those good things we’ve been working on continue to move forward and see light.”