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Pittsburgh Women, People Of Color Claiming Victory After Primary Election

State Rep. Ed Gainey voting at his polling place in the 2021 primary election.
Chris Potter
90.5 WESA
State Rep. Ed Gainey voting at his polling place in the 2021 primary election.

On today’s program: Ed Gainey got more votes than Democratic incumbent mayor Bill Peduto during Tuesday’s primary election; how the Pittsburgh Promise is trying to help students succeed after an unpredictable year; and a look at the impact of U.S. Steel’s decision not to make upgrades at the Mon Valley Works plant.

Women, people of color are claiming victory after primary election
(0:00 — 8:30)

Tuesday’s primary election resulted in an historic victory at the top of the ballot in the city of Pittsburgh.

“It is history, even Bill Peduto himself acknowledged during his concession speech last night, this is a big deal in a town where a lot of people never thought it would happen,” says WESA’s government and accountability editor Chris Potter.

Ed Gainey is on his way to becomingthe first Black mayor of the city of Pittsburgh with 46% of the vote to Peduto’s 39%. Anthony Moreno pulled in 13% of tabulated votes.

“There are definitely neighborhoods that Bill Peduto won in 2017 the last time he was up for reelection where Mr. Moreno won last night, Carrick is a good example,” says Potter. “These tend to be whiter, working class neighborhoods, in the case of Carrick in particular.”

Potter says a slate of other progressive candidates focused on racial and social justice issues were also successful in Common Pleas judicial races.

"Women candidates running for judge won six out of nine [seats], Black candidates for judge won four out of nine. I'm hard pressed to think of a local election cycle where that kind of demographic trend has taken hold."

Turnout was 39% this primary election, more than 10 percentage points higher than the 2017 primary.

Pittsburgh Promise is enacting outreach and summer programs to support high school students
(8:36 — 15:21)

Undergraduate enrollment for the Spring semester was down about six percent compared to the same time last year. Enrollment in community colleges fell by more than 11 percent.

This stark decline meant changes to how the Pittsburgh Promise reaches students. The organization has funded more than 10,000 city students since its inception in 2008, but they are seeing declines in program interest.

“We’re very concerned about the fact that Promise utilization rates for the high school class of 2020, the class that first experienced the pandemic for us, was close to 20% below the class of 2019,” says Saleem Ghubril, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Promise.

The Promise has bolstered it’s outreach from two to 10 full-time “Promise coaches” to connect with students and hired three additional full-time, contract, outreach workers to call every student from the class of 2020 to ask if they have made a post-high school plan.

It has also established summer programs with stipends to help combat the “summer melt” of learning that happens when students are out of school.

U.S. Steel has cancelled Mon Valley Works upgrades
(15:24 — 18:00)

U.S. Steel cancelled its more than a billion dollars in upgrades at its Mon Valley Works steel plants in Western Pennsylvania.

For StateImpact Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier looked at what was behind the decision and what impact it might have.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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