UPDATED: 4: 27 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.
Kevin Acklin, Chief of Staff to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, is stepping down in January.
In a letter to Peduto dated Dec. 7, Acklin called the position “a dream job” and told the Mayor it had “been an honor to work alongside you these past four years to rebuild a city government that our residents deserve.”
Acklin held back tears while reading his resignation letter during a City Council budget hearing Thursday morning.
Acklin, who also serves as Chief Development Officer for the city, joined the administration as it began in 2014, after working on Peduto’s mayoral campaign.
Acklin said he plans to return to the private sector and offered to stay on as the chairman of the board of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
The exact date of Acklin's resignation has yet to be determined. Peduto said he hasn’t chosen a successor, but that he has considered some names and could conduct a national search.
During his tenure with the city, Acklin played key roles in the renegotiation of a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins to develop the Lower Hill District, the formation of a bid to woo Amazon’s second headquarters to the Steel City, and negotiations with the developers of East Liberty’s Penn Plaza, where scores of low-income tenants have been displaced over the past two years.
The affordable housing complex had been home to more than 200 people, and Acklin recalled working to find homes for the displaced tenants. He said it was his greatest challenge as chief of staff.
“That was a very difficult process,” Acklin said. “We felt powerless at time[s] - it was private property. But, ultimately, I think I’m proud of the work that we did."
Among his proudest accomplishments, Acklin said, was his work to help shore up the city's finances and achieve fiscal discipline. The city entered the state’s Act 47 program, which places financially distressed municipalities under the state’s oversight, in 2004. But, in November, Peduto said the city is ready to retake control of its finances.
Acklin also championed transparency in the restructuring of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, which has been beleaguered by problems around customer service, infrastructure and public health.
A lawyer, Acklin said he expects to move on to a legal job in the private sector. He said he took a substantial pay cut to join Peduto’s administration in 2014, and that he now needs a higher salary to better support his family. His children will soon be attending the private Central Catholic High School.
“George is in 7th grade. Teddy’s in 6th,” Acklin explained. “Central is about 15 percent of my salary. Two kids in Central is about a third. So, that’s just the idea of moving forward.”
Once a Republican, Acklin ran unsuccessfully as an Independent to become Pittsburgh’s mayor in 2009. He ran for Allegheny County Council as a Republican in 2007.
Acklin grew up in South Oakland and graduated from Pittsburgh Catholic High School. He attended Harvard University for his undergraduate degree and has a law degree from Georgetown University.
This post has been updated to reflect comments from Kevin Acklin regarding his future employment.