Pittsburgh City Council will bid farewell to two of its own Tuesday. Council member Natalia Rudiak is stepping down after deciding not to run for a third term, and Council member Dan Gilman is leaving to become chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto.
Last week, both councilors attended their final city council meeting, where Rudiak delivered remarks on the budget. She praised steps the body has taken to clean up the city’s finances and bring more transparency, order and accountability to the budgeting process.
Pittsburgh has been designated as financially distressed and under state oversight since 2004, and Rudiak counts her work as chair of council’s Finance and Law Committee among her proudest accomplishments.
“At the end of this road, we are getting out of distressed status,” she said. “We’re in solid financial shape to have our pensions fully funded and have a capital budget in future years like we’ve never seen before.”
In her remarks, however, she advised her remaining colleagues to mount a stronger response to the opioid crisis.
“Some may say that this is a state issue, a county issue, a public health issue - and not a city issue,” Rudiak said. “But the fact of the matter is that in 2016 our first-responders administered Naloxone to approximately 1,400 people.”
Naloxone is a medication meant to reverse opioid overdoses. While overdoses have become especially common in Rudiak’s south Pittsburgh district, she considers the issue to be a city-wide threat to safety and quality of life. Council, Rudiak said, needs to leverage resources to ease the resulting burden on families and first-responders.
Rudiak hasn't decided what her next job will be, but she plans to relax, travel and learn Spanish in the meantime.
She'll also stay involved with a PAC she co-founded in 2017, called Women for the Future. The organization will raise funds for what they describe as "progressive" women running for office at all levels of government in Western Pennsylvania, Rudiak said.
Gilman moves to the mayor’s office after winning a second term on council last November. There will be a special election to fill his seat, but a date has yet to be determined.