Tomorrow is a big day for Pittsburgh residents, as we’ll choose who is up for election in the fall. Bill Peduto is one of this year’s democratic mayoral candidates in the primary. Serving on City Council since 2001 has cemented his position as a big supporter of the arts, so we wanted to see what other aspects of Peduto’s platform might ring true with our readership. We’re here to promote a positive image of Pittsburgh, so it’s nice to see someone else who believes in the city as much as we do. We had a chance to ask Bill a few questions before the upcoming primary.
No stranger to local politics, Peduto was elected to Pittsburgh City Council in 2001 and is currently serving his third term. He chairs the Committee on General Services, Technology and the Arts, in addition to overseeing the City Information Systems department, the Cable Bureau and the Art Commission on Council. He plans on using this extensive experience to his advantage. “Being on city council has taught me what is working and what is not working in city government. I know how our city departments function and what changes are needed to get them working better. I also have been fortunate enough to be involved in development projects and community efforts all across the city – not just in my own council district. I can hit the ground running as mayor and be able to help move projects forward in Brookline, Beechview, Homewood, Troy Hill and other neighborhoods across the city because I’ve been involved in the discussions at the council table.”
Peduto’s involvement has been crucial to the transformative redevelopment of the city’s East End, and he feels other areas are poised to develop in similar ways. “Two neighborhoods that stick out for me are Beechview and the Hill. I think we can start to see some real resurgence in these neighborhoods from a community-driven standpoint. Beechview is starting to see a lot more young people and young families moving in and because of the work of Councilwoman Rudiak and committed neighborhood stakeholders you’re seeing new development there. Beechview has so much going for it from transit, to affordable housing stock, to a great little business district that is ready to start booming.
The Hill is at a turning point right now. With the redevelopment of the Civic Arena site we could see a real rebirth of the neighborhood but we have to make sure we get it right and that the community is really benefiting from the development. I will work very closely with the community and the developers to ensure that benefits flow directly to residents and business owners in the Hill.”
As for the young professionals of Pittsburgh, a few key issues ring true with Peduto. “I think cutting red tape in city government and making it easier for young people to start businesses, get around on public transportation, and live in walkable neighborhoods will all help to improve opportunities and quality of life. I also think that promoting Pittsburgh as a destination for tech and innovation companies will help draw new young professionals here and keep more of our graduating students here. People need to know that there is opportunity in Pittsburgh that you can’t find anywhere else. Combine that with affordable housing in livable neighborhoods and we could really start to see a population boom in the next decade.”
Peduto has routinely embraced methods of communication (YouTube, mobile app iBurgh, Facebook, Twitter) utilized by the more tech savvy, younger demographic. This key aspect of his practices as a politician have helped keep him in touch with a new generation. “I want young people to get more involved in their communities and in making decisions about the future of those neighborhoods. We need younger people joining community organizations and block watches and we need more young people serving on the city’s boards, authorities, and commissions. I want to open up the process for nominations to these bodies to get a more diverse mix of people making decisions for our city’s future. When you open up government and make it more transparent and accessible people actually want to be a part of it and I hope we can achieve that.”
One takeaway, regardless of the outcome, that Peduto will take away from this campaign is the opportunity to meet and engage with residents from each corner of the city. “The chance to get out and have conversations with people all over the city has been really meaningful. The funny thing is that no matter what neighborhood someone lives in or what their background is people in Pittsburgh all basically want the same things. They want the city to deliver the services they pay for. They want to feel safe in their neighborhoods. And they want opportunity for their families. That’s what this campaign is about and it’s about empowering people all over the city to work together with city government to make it happen.”
If you’re an avid supporter or still on the fence, we hope this helps to shape your opinion. And remember, no matter what party or candidate you support, the central message here is to get out and vote tomorrow because the future of our city is in YOUR hands! Visit here for more information on voting tomorrow.