Ed Gainey wins Democratic nomination for mayor of Pittsburgh


The state representative will almost certainly be the city’s first black mayor, and his victory follows a year of nationwide social upheaval over police and racial justice issues.

State Representative Ed Gainey won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Pittsburgh on Tuesday, ousting Mayor Bill Peduto and defeating two other candidates.

By 11pm, unofficial results had driven Gainey to Peduto from 45% to 41%, his lead increasing as the votes continued to be counted. Peduto called to concede the race at Gainey around 10:30 p.m. The other two candidates, Tony Moreno and Michael Thompson, were 13% and 1% respectively.

Gainey will almost surely be the city’s first black mayor at a time when black Pittsburgh residents are leaving the city in droves and racial justice issues like policing and affordable housing have become key issues at the local and national levels. . He’ll need to win the November general election to become mayor, but Pittsburgh voters overwhelmingly swing Democrats and there are currently no Republican nominees.

“I am honored, honored and proud that the people of Pittsburgh have placed their trust in me by making me their Democratic candidate for mayor,” Gainey said in a statement Tuesday. “This election has made history, and I am ready to get down to work to build a Pittsburgh where everyone can belong, contribute and succeed.”

Peduto, who was first elected mayor in 2013, has has been the subject of significant criticism and at least two federal civil rights lawsuits during his campaign. The lawsuits allege that as mayor he failed to properly control the Pittsburgh Police Officers office during the protests of last summer following the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin. The lawsuits also allege that the police department used excessive force against protesters in the city and at times ordered protesters to disperse, blocked their ability to leave and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at them.

Peduto had recognized the need to “reimagine policing” during his campaign and, as mayor, implemented some reforms, including the establishment of de-escalation and implicit prejudice training and the implementation of a set of reforms aimed at reducing the use of force by the police known as “8 I can’t wait. But he opposed cutting the police department’s budget and said at a public meeting in October this crime was decreasing in the city “because our police budget was increasing”.

Gainey told The Appeal in April that Peduto’s reforms represented a lot of talk but little concrete action. “We have so many reports that we’ve written and they stay on the shelf,” Gainey said. “We’re saying we’re going to implement X, Y, and Z without implementing anything. It’s just talking.

Part of Gainey’s plan to tackle over-policing in minority communities includes distributing officers evenly throughout the city, although this approach has been criticized by some community activists as not going far enough. The people of Pittsburgh called, among other reforms, a 50% reduction in the police budget and move towards the elimination of the department.

“To paraphrase Grover Norquist, the police department must be scaled down to a size small enough to drown in the tub,” Bret Grote, legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center, told The Appeal in April.

Gainey also criticized Peduto affordable housing case, as do community activists. Pittsburgh’s black population fell by more than 8,000 people between 2013 and 2019 – a drop of almost 10%, according to five-year estimates released by the American Community Survey of the US Census Bureau. At the same time, the white population fell by just over 1,000 people, or less than 1%.

“In Pittsburgh, for the past four decades, politicians have promised a city that is economically and racially diverse,” Carl Redwood, a housing activist and board chairman of the Hill District Consensus Group, said at a city council public hearing in May. “But one mayor after another and one city council after another have accelerated existing class and racial inequalities.”

Gainey also accused Peduto of breaking his promise to make housing affordable during his eight years in office. He told The Appeal that he wanted to use inclusive zoning to ensure affordable housing was built into any development plan with the city, and said in April that the $ 10 million allocated annually, the Opportunities Housing Fund, set up for the development and maintenance of affordable housing, was not sufficient to meet the city’s needs.

Peduto acknowledged that there were “two Pittsburghs”: a white, who reaped the rewards of growth, and a black, who had to deal with many of its negative consequences, such as rising or unaffordable prices of goods. rents and housing.

During his tenure, Peduto signed a law passed by the city council to create the Housing Promotion Fund; supported inclusionary zoning, which requires private developers to build affordable housing as part of all new housing construction; and announced the Own PGH program in March to provide home loans to low-income families and those who do not have access to traditional financing for a home.

Peduto also joined a national pilot program to provide a monthly allowance of $ 500 to 200 people in the city. He said his office had prioritized distributing the money to households headed by black women.

During his concession speech Tuesday, Peduto said he pledged to “do my job to elect the first black mayor of Pittsburgh. “

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