Mayor Bill Peduto announces re-election campaign


Photo by Gracey Evans

Written By Jordyn Hronec, Editor-in-Chief

The City of Pittsburgh’s current Mayor Bill Peduto is officially running for a third term.

The primary election for the mayoral race is scheduled for May 18, 2021. Currently, Peduto’s only official Democratic opponent is Tony Moreno of Brighton Heights, a retired Pittsburgh police officer, but the deadline for nomination petition filing for the primary election is March 16, 2021.

So far, no Republican candidates have entered the race, with the mayoral election scheduled to take place on Nov. 2, 2021.

The mayor kicked off his re-election campaign with a virtual town hall featuring 14 different leaders from neighborhoods throughout the city. The town hall premiered at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 14 via Bill Peduto’s Facebook page.

In an interview with The Globe, Mayor Peduto said that he had “a lot” of unfinished business leading to his decision to run for a third term.

“The fact is, we’ve been able to take a city government that was basically broken in 2014 and adapt it to the needs of where Pittsburgh is today,” Peduto said. “It’s required creating entirely new departments, bringing in an entirely new administration. In fact, the only person who was kept was the fire chief. The idea that we could change a culture within five to seven years was pretty much unheard of from Pittsburgh.”

Major areas of focus that Peduto is campaigning on include racial inequality in Pittsburgh, eradicating homelessness and environmentalism.

During the mayor’s Facebook town hall, a “Community Voices,” video was shown, where 14 different Pittsburghers discussed their experiences working with the mayor and the issues they were respectively concerned about.

One issue that was addressed was the segregation of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods by race.

“I think it’s a tale of two cities,” Jennifer Cash Wade of Beltzhoover said. “I think there is a white Pittsburgh, and I think there is a Black Pittsburgh. I think that Mayor Bill Peduto has always been cognizant of it.”

“We are kind of like, community, community, community,” Nikkia Wade of Ingram said. “And there’s some stretching out and crossing the bridges, but I think that needs to happen more. I feel that Mayor Peduto can continue to invest, just in the community. Let’s all come together.”

“Historically, the city has been segregated first by topography, hills and rivers,” Peduto said to The Globe. “But even more so through opportunity, where certain parts of Pittsburgh have been left behind since we’ve seen a growing economy. The ability to integrate Pittsburgh goes beyond the physical component of housing.”

Peduto described neighborhood development and the role of city government in creating equal economic opportunity, citing programs that exist within the city to provide books to children, place high school students at different corporations in order to introduce them to work opportunities and programs that provide meals to Pittsburghers.

The mayor also discussed the issue of police brutality in Pittsburgh, a topic that was highly discussed during the Black Lives Matter protests over the past summer. Peduto said that needs vary between neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, and he cited unequal economic opportunities for young people in historic Black neighborhoods.

“The way that we’ve dealt with it for the past 30 years has been to provide police officers to deal with any situations that would occur with individuals,” Peduto said. “They’re not breaking criminal code. They need social services. So one of the key areas that we will want to be able to focus on in the next four years is, how do we adapt the delivery of our services? Bring back the Health and Human Services aspect to local government. Work in partnership with our colleagues in the county to be able to help those critical communities. Not necessarily have a police officer as the first to respond to a situation where someone needs help.”

Over the summer, Peduto’s response to the Black Lives Matter protest came under scrutiny.

In August, protesters marched through Point Breeze, the neighborhood where the mayor lives, several times, and on several occasions, protested outside of the mayor’s home. Throughout the summer, Peduto did express his support for the protesters and the Black community, but during the protests at his home, he did not engage in much conversation.

Students’ opinions of the mayor are mixed.

“Peduto has continually refused community members’ pleas to reduce the police budget, which directly correlates to the oppression of Black community members,” Jesse Dillon, a junior interdisciplinary design major, said. “Every time the police hurt a person of color in our city, the blood is on Peduto’s hands.”

It is Dillon’s opinion that Peduto is not the right candidate for mayor in 2021.

“Peduto is pushing an agenda that will directly harm the people of Pittsburgh,” Dillon said. “He actively ignores community members’ requests for change and seems to only do what he sees to be right, not what the people of Pittsburgh want. He obviously does not care for the people in his community and is unfit to be the mayor of our city.”

“I think he’s overrated,” Kasey Newman, a senior education major said. “I feel like he does one thing and people are like ‘wow he’s so great,’ but then Pittsburgh had some of the worst police brutality marches in the country, and I feel like people cut him a lot of slack because he’s not a Republican. I think he put too much effort into bike lanes.”

Peduto also discussed his desire to assist the homeless population of Pittsburgh. In August, an announcement was released regarding a new homeless shelter that will be built downtown on Second Avenue. The shelter will have 95 beds with room for 42 overflow beds.

Peduto said that more support at a federal level would be needed in order to further expand upon services that the city could offer to work towards its goal of eradicating homelessness.

Peduto also said that it is important for young college students in Pittsburgh to participate in local elections, such as the upcoming mayoral election.

“Pittsburgh has a population of approximately 300,000. Over 50,000 are college students,” Peduto said. “College students have the ability to have a direct say in the type of city that they want to live in, and the type of city that they would want to stay in. They always show up during the presidential elections, but not as much during the municipal elections. And municipal elections may have a greater effect on the quality of your life and living in Pittsburgh than the federal or statewide elections.”