Activist Leon Ford has suspended his campaign for Pittsburgh City Council.
In an email to campaign supporters Tuesday, Ford said, “My other commitments have become too great for me to be able to fulfill the requirements of this position. I feel it is best for me to make room for someone who has the true ability to devote to this honor.”
Ford's announcement came on the due date for petitions from candidates seeking to appear on the May 21 primary ballot. And he was joined later in the day by South Side lawyer Amy Schrempf in City Council District 3. Schrempf said in a Facebook post that "I have always said that without that endorsement, that I would not run for District 3. Out of respect for my party, I will keep that promise and bow out of the race."
She lost the party's endorsement to incumbent Bruce Kraus Sunday. Dropping out, she told WESA, "is about respect for the party, and for the process." She said she hadn't decided to back anyone else in the race yet.
There was considerable excitement around Ford’s candidacy when he launched his campaign in November. The 25-year-old, who was shot and paralyzed by Pittsburgh police in 2012, received numerous endorsements from local and national figures, including state Reps. Ed Gainey (D-Homewood) and Summer Lee (D-Swissvale). Presidential candidate and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper also threw his support behind the candidate.
There were signs in recent months that Ford’s campaign had lost momentum. After hosting several public meetings late last year, the campaign largely went silent, with no events scheduled and no activity on social media since early January.
In February, the candidate did not seek the Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsement, which some thought he was well-positioned to win. Then in March, the campaign did not submit a campaign finance report required under city law.
Ford was running in Pittsburgh’s 9th District, which includes all or part of the East Hills, East Liberty, Friendship, Garfield, Homewood, Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, and Point Breeze North. He was challenging Democrat Ricky Burgess, who has held the seat since 2008.
Following Ford’s announcement, Democrat Kierran Young, who is running in District 9, said, “I hope Leon stays involved in the community. His voice is desperately needed.”
In his statement Tuesday, Ford told his supporters, “I am so proud of everything we have accomplished over the past few months, and I have no doubt that we can continue these successes.”
“I am still committed to using my platform to help ensure positive changes in The City of Pittsburgh, District 9,” he said.
In addition to Burgess and Young, the district's other candidates include Democrats Cherylie Fuller, Judith Ginyard, and Randall Taylor.