Pittsburgh Primary Upset Poises Town To Have First Black Mayor
Pittsburgh is positioned to elect its first Black mayor after Pennsylvania state representative Ed Gainey upset two-term incumbent mayor Bill Peduto in the Democratic primary earlier this week.
Gainey, who has served five terms in the state legislature, took 46 percent of the vote, essentially creating an apparent path to a win in November since there is no declared Republican candidate on the ballot and the city votes overwhelmingly Democratic.
Representing a district covering much of the city, Gainey campaigned on a progressive platform which questioned whether or not Pittsburgh really is one of the nation’s most livable cities, as it has been called.
"For whom is Pittsburgh most livable?" Gainey asked, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "A city is changed when we all come together to improve the quality of life for everybody. That's why I ran for mayor: because I believe we can have a city for all."
Peduto took office in 2013, campaigning on transforming Pittsburgh into a town centered on the tech and healthcare industries rather than its longtime steel foundry legacy. But at the same time, gentrification became a major issue as almost 7,000 African Americans left the city between 2014 and 2018, The New York Times reports. Currently, Black people make up 23 percent of its population or about 71,000 people according to Census Bureau figures.
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Several reports displayed data finding that quality of life for Pittsburgh’s Black residents has been particularly low and finding large gaps in racial and gender equality. In a 2019 study, released by Peduto’s office, health, employment and education opportunities fell behind most major American cities. For example, Black and other women of color earned between 54 and 59 cents for every dollar a Pittsburgh white man earned.
Another report from the Pittsburgh Police Department showed a disproportionate rate of arrests of Black citizens. Officers took 9,992 individuals into custody in 2018, 60 percent of them were black, the study said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Gainey used inequalities like those to bolster his campaign, pledging to make Pittsburgh welcoming for all residents, not for just a few demographic segments.
"We will work hard, not just I as mayor, but we as a community and we as a city will work to build a better city called Pittsburgh for everybody,” Gainey told supporters after his victory. “We will embrace justice. We will do all that we have to do to make this a city that's welcoming for everybody.”