It’s a new season. It’s a new day.
Ed Gainey is set to make history as the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh, The New York Times reports.
Gainey is a five-term Pennsylvania state representative who ran a progressive campaign against incumbent Bill Peduto. While both men championed hot button topics like affordable housing and addressing racial inequities, Gainey made it very clear that Peduto had already had two terms to fix these issues. Peduto was first elected in 2013, focusing his efforts on climate change, criminal justice reform and the revitalization of Pittsburgh into a tech and health care city. However, his efforts over the last 7+ years have only served to widen the gap for Black Burgh residents.
While the city boasts being one of the most livable cities in America, life for Black residents paint a different contrast. Between 2014 to 2018, almost 7,000 Black people fled the city, with many suspecting it was a result of gentrification. City reports also show that when it comes to employment rates and maternal health, Black people and specifically Black women have a lower quality of life than other Blacks across the nation. During the pandemic and subsequent racial reckoning, Peduto was called to the carpet many times by protestors who highlighted the disproportionate rate that the majority white Pittsburgh police department arrested Black residents. He was also criticized for his aggressive response to protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
Gainey defeated Peduto in the recent Democratic primary, winning 46 percent of the vote with Peduto only garnering 39 percent. The former mayor is the first Pittsburgh mayor to lose a bid for reelection since 1933. Gainey will go on to face off against opponents in the November election.
“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,” Gainey said.
Peduto extended his support for Gainey in his concession speech, calling his win “a historic night for the city of Pittsburgh.”
The city is slowly but surely backing more progressive leaders, activists in the city running for office, candidates being endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and the addition of more Black representatives in the legislature. Many of these political influencers came together to support Gainey’s campaign.
Allegheny county councilor Bethany Hallam spoke about the recent change in politics in the Steel City, saying, “You’re not going to find anyone who says Pittsburgh is perfect just the way it is. [This] does not spell good news for incumbents who created the landscape we live in.”
Congratulations Rep. Gainey! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Associated Press