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The Confluence: An interview with Ed Gainey, Pittsburgh's new mayor

Election 2021-Mayor Pittsburgh Ed Gainey
Keith Srakocic
The Democratic Party candidate for Mayor of Pittsburgh in the 2021 election, Ed Gainey, addresses the people gathered for Pennsylvania's Democratic attorney general Josh Shapiro's campaign launch for Pennsylvania governor, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Pittsburgh.

On today’s episode of The Confluence: Incoming Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey talks about his goals as leader of the city, running a campaign against an incumbent, and how he’ll work with former colleagues in the state legislature.

Pittsburgh’s new mayor lays out priorities for addressing violence in the city, and why he wants to center public health
(0:00 - 22:30)

History is made today as Ed Gainey becomes the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh and 61st mayor over the last 206 years.

Gainey unseated incumbent mayor Bill Peduto in last year’s primary.

Although Gainey credits Peduto’s administration for its plans and innovative policies, his own team will work to enact further progress.

“I know my administration will be more on the execution side, the ability to get out there, be in these neighborhoods, talk to the people, build these relationships,” says Gainey.

Gainey announced his transition team in mid-December, and has indicated that some will stay on to fulfill other positions in his administration.

“We want to talk to council but we’re probably looking at a model where [state Rep.] Jake Wheatley is chief of staff and Jake Pawlak [who is currently Gainey's transition director] will run the operations of the city, and also be the one that deals with council from the mayor’s office,” says Gainey.

City council has already advanced a bill that would allow it to review mayoral appointees for deputy-level positions.

When it comes to public safety, Gainey says he will create a public health plan to eradicate violence.

“You know, public safety plays a major part, we need our police to do their jobs. … But public safety will never improve public health. But public health will always improve public safety,” says Gainey. He adds that violence ultimately affects the city’s poverty, homelessness, education and equity.

Despite his lofty goals, Gainey acknowledges their long-term nature.

“It takes 20 years for development to really happen,” says Gainey. “If I can plant a seed of change in this city to where we’re doing things a little bit different, where people feel like this city is more welcoming, where we feel like this city has grown a little bit, then I’ve done my job.”

Gainey’s inauguration takes place at 1 p.m. this afternoon and will be available to livestream on our website.

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. 

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at
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