When Bill Peduto is sworn in to his second term as mayor of Pittsburgh Jan. 3, Kevin Acklin will no longer be his chief of staff.
Acklin, a corporate attorney, announced last week he’s returning to the private sector.
But Peduto is not only losing his chief of staff. Over the last four years, Acklin also served as the city’s chief economic development officer.
“It's hard to replace someone that's irreplaceable,” Peduto said.
In fact, the mayor plans to replace Acklin with two people.
“We're simply looking for a chief of staff. We're not looking for a chief of staff [who is also] economic development chief,” Peduto said. “We still need an economic development person within the administration as well, and that role will probably be filled from within.”
The mayor said he will still be playing the role of “salesman” when it comes to attracting new businesses to the city and expanding those currently in Pittsburgh.
“When you're dealing with the negotiation; when you're dealing with the law in the programs that are out there you need an expert," Peduto said. "You need somebody who has an expertise in economic development and or an expertise in negotiations and making deals happen.”
According to Peduto, Acklin has built a good team.
“This will give them the opportunity to prove over 2018 that they are capable of doing that type of heavy lifting," he said.
While Peduto looks within his current administration for a new economic development officer, he will not look outside of the Pittsburgh area for a new chief of staff.
“Kevin Acklin bleeds black and gold. You don't get more Pittsburgh than Kevin Acklin. I think a chief of staff position really needs to understand the city,” Peduto said.
The mayor added that he can hire different people with the expertise that's needed in law, finance, and being able to deliver public works and public safety.
“But that chief of staff has to have the feel of the city, has to know its heartbeat,” he said.
Peduto said he would like the economic development officer and the chief of staff in place when he begins his second term.
“We want to be able to fill these positions with people who are deeply, deeply committed to Pittsburgh,” he said.