For the first time in its nearly 228-year history, Pittsburgh has a Black mayor.
Ed Gainey, after an eight-year stint as a state representative, has returned to the Steel City to take over as the city’s top elected official. The Pittsburgher began his term Monday by stressing the need for the city to be more welcoming, more diverse and less divided.
“For me, today is not just a celebration, but it is an appreciation of you and our city,” Gainey said in his introductory remarks.
Gainey, who defeated two-term Mayor Bill Peduto by about 4,000 votes in the May primary, had to then take down former police officer Tony Moreno in the general election. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Gainey even spent time as a community development specialist for former mayor Luke Ravenstahl before becoming a state representative.
When he was first elected to the General Assembly in 2012, Gainey said he was focused on fostering economic growth, increasing transparency and reducing gun violence and crime. Now, nearly a decade older and serving his hometown in a new manner, Gainey’s focus is largely unchanged.
“My promise to you is that we will work to make Pittsburgh the Pittsburgh you voted for; a city where economic opportunity is abundant for everybody, a city where affordability isn’t a luxury, a city that is prepared to lead into the future,” Gainey said.
In one of his final interviews as mayor, Peduto reflected on his time leading the city and its future in Gainey’s hands. He said he sat down with Gainey a couple of weeks ago to discuss the transition and that he followed the tradition of leaving a note in the mayor’s desk for who takes over next. Peduto also said he considers his wave of elected officials as the foundation for the progressive movements seen in cities across the country today.
“We changed city government,” Peduto said. “We were able to take apart the [political] machine bolt by bolt and build the progressive era within the City of Pittsburgh that this new progressive group had as a foundation to run on.”
The historic inauguration, which was expected to be a large event in the city, was conducted virtually due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. Among those who made remarks was Gov. Tom Wolf, who expressed support for his former colleague in Harrisburg.
“I know [Gainey] as a strong leader who has time and time again demonstrated his immense strength of character and his determination to lift up people in his community,” Wolf said. “As mayor, he is going to use the full force of his determination, his strength and his dedication to put the people of Pittsburgh first.”
Gainey’s transition team includes co-chairs Angel Gober and Silas Russell, director Jake Pawlak and advisor Lisa Frank. He also appointed Darrin Kelly, president of the Allegheny/Fayette Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, to co-chair the education and workforce development transition team.
Alongside his transition committee members, Gainey expects to address issues such as affordable housing, educational opportunities and public transportation and safety reforms in the first 100 days.
Gainey concluded, “[it’s] our responsibility right here and now to work together to make a Pittsburgh for everybody, so the next generation says that ‘we live in the greatest city in America.’ And it won't be a slogan, it'll be for real. Pittsburgh, let's get it."