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Peduto Announces Re-Election Bid

Jared Murphy
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto at a press conference in 2019.

Mayor Bill Peduto announced on Thursday afternoon his bid for re-election for his seat as Pittsburgh's chief executive. 


"We’re in a very good standing point when it comes to other cities," he said at the end of a pre-recorded town hall even that launched his campaign Thursday afternoon.  While the coronavirus raged alongside political divisions and longstanding concern about racial equity, he said, “No matter what the crisis that was thrown of us, we came back stronger.”


In an online presentation that lasted less than an hour, Peduto touched on a number of issues facing the city, and referenced a series of hurdles he had overcome since first taking office in 2014. The city had emerged from pension and financial crises, he noted -- though groundwork for that accomplishment had been laid by prior administrations. He also touted efforts to turn around the city's beleaguered water authority, which has suffered from leaky and lead-lined pipes as well as administrative and billing problems. City pipes would be lead-free by 2025, he said, and governance was much improved.

"Although these times with the pandemic and political uncertainty are holding us back, I have a very good feeling that what is going to come out of this will be a much better city,” Peduto said.

Thursday's announcement came as no surprise: Peduto has long said he intended to seek three terms as mayor, citing as a precedent the tenure of the city’s first “Renaissance” mayor, David L. Lawrence. Peduto won his first term in 2013, when he earned the right to replace Luke Ravenstahl by winning a four-way Democratic primary in a race that featured former Auditor General Jack Wagner and state Rep. Jake Wheatley.(He won the general election contest over token opposition.) In 2017 he won a three-way primary against City Councilor and longtime foe Darlene Harris, and minister John Welch. 

It’s unclear how much opposition Peduto will face this time. Rumors of a run by state Rep. Ed Gainey are swirling, though Gainey has not responded to requests for comment made in recent weeks. A retired police officer, Tony Moreno, has previously said he intends to run.

Peduto has the advantage of incumbency in a city where an incumbent hasn’t lost in decades. And as of a campaign finance report filed a year ago, he had nearly $271,000 in the bank: A new report is due at the end of the month. 


The mayor can also point to a number of accomplishments, and he has pursued a variety of progressive reforms like a bill requiring many city employers to offer paid sick leave, efforts to build more new housing, and to create more green space in the city. 


But there have been signs of frustration with Peduto in some quarters. Some constituents have criticized his handling of marches against police brutality after a summer of protests. Two of those demonstrations involved protesters being arrested, pepper sprayed, tear gassed, and shot with bean bag rounds. 


There have also been longstanding concerns about racial disparities when it comes to health and economic outcomes, and worries that lower-income residents are being threatened by rising home prices in many areas. An introductory video that proceeded Peduto's announcement included community leaders acknowledging that there were "two Pittsburghs," divided on race and class lines, but lauding Peduto's efforts to redress them.


Peduto himself pointed to a pilot program to launch this year that will provide a guaranteed basic income, and he noted that the program would focus resources on households led by black women. He said he would work with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden to overhaul housing aid so low-income families could buy homes rather than rent them. And he ended on an optimistic note. 

"Unlike administrations of the past that had to manage decline," he said, "these next several years for us will be about an opportunity to manage growth.”

Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Ariel finally made a “big move” 45 minutes down the interstate to the University of Alabama where she studied Journalism and International Studies. During her time in college she interned with Tuscaloosa News, a daily newspaper in her college town. After college, she got her first job back in her hometown with Birmingham Times, a weekly where she served as reporter and editor. Ariel made an even bigger move to Pittsburgh and joined the 90.5 WESA family as digital producer. She is adjusting to experiencing actual cold weather.
Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.
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