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‘My work is in these neighborhoods’: Mayor-elect Ed Gainey on priorities when he takes office

Pennsylvania State Rep. Ed Gainey speaks to a crowd on the North Shore on Monday, May 10, 2021.
Chris Potter
90.5 WESA
Pennsylvania State Rep. Ed Gainey speaks to a crowd on the North Shore on Monday, May 10, 2021.

On today’s episode of The Confluence: Mayor-elect Ed Gainey joins The Confluence to explain the priorities he’ll take on while in office, ranging from creating a diverse administration to advocating for more community policing; and a look at labor challenges facing the state’s agriculture industry as the average age of farmers rises. 

Mayor-elect Ed Gainey says he’s looking to reduce disparities, and plans to uphold and review Mayor Bill Peduto’s vaccine mandate
(0:00 - 14:51)

State Rep. Ed Gainey made history Tuesday when he was elected as the city of Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor after upsetting incumbent Bill Peduto in May’s Democratic primary.

“You can’t change anything if you’re not present. ... I told people before, my office is on Grant Street, but my work is in these neighborhoods,” says Gainey. “I need to be out in these neighborhoods, meeting with neighborhood and community leaders, finding out how the city can best serve them, building those bridges that haven’t been built in the past.”

Gainey says he’s looking forward to building partnerships, including among business leaders Downtown and across the city to improve residents' quality of life.

“You know, for years we don’t have an African American or Latino middle class neighborhood. Every neighborhood that looks like me is living in poverty,” says Gainey. “The report came out about … this being the worst city for Black women.”

Gainey is referencing a 2019 report about gender equity in the city, conducted by University of Pittsburgh researchers. The report found despite Pittsburgh being livable for most, it is not so for Black women. According to the research, Black women in the city face steep income inequality, and poor health, employment, and education outcomes.

He says he wants to turn the city’s disparities into opportunities.

The day before the election, Mayor Bill Peduto announced a vaccine requirement for city employees. The city’s police union has already said it will file a grievance against the city for the mandate. Gainey says he plans to uphold the mandate, but will also review whether it’s necessary when he takes office in January.

“I understand why the mayor did it, you have three police officers that passed away, God bless their families,” says Gainey. “We will look to see how we need to implement it, but we will review it based on the science that will be there in January.”

Farmers are aging, leaving the industry’s labor force uncertain
(14:54 - 22:30)

With more than half of people who run Pennsylvania’s farms aged 55 or older, agricultural communities in the state face an uncertain future. 90.5 WESA’s An-Li Herring reports the industry wants to protect farmland and is bracing for a labor shortage.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.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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