Outgoing Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto reflects on his tenure, following
When the political career of outgoing Pittsburgh mayor, Bill Peduto, began about three decades ago, the city was much different from the one he said left mayor-elect Ed Gainey.
Peduto said he started working in “a city that was in depression, a city that had been left for dead and a city that had truly been counted.”
Now, he said, the city is on a stable financial footing, the pension fund is “the strongest it has been in decades” and the city has seen nearly $ 12 billion in investment. during his tenure as mayor. Peduto leaves the new mayor with an operating and investment budget balanced over five years, as well as a reserve fund.
“People don’t laugh about Pittsburgh anymore,” he said. “Pittsburgh is seen more as a cutting-edge city, a city more at the cutting edge of innovation and a city recognized as being back on the world stage. “
Peduto has said he can’t choose a defining moment or his greatest pride as mayor, and he doesn’t think there is one thing that defines his legacy.
“It’s almost like looking at a screen and being asked to choose a pixel,” he said.
A legacy of progress
Peduto, 57, said he hopes his legacy will be one of transformation and progress.
“I don’t think the government’s job is ever done. There is always more work to be done, ”he said. “However, when I look back on what we started with and what we were able to accomplish, I am very proud of the work that we have accomplished.”
Dan Gilman, Chief of Staff at Peduto, said he was very proud of “the extent of the work that we have accomplished,” including restoring the city’s financial security and creating a trust fund for the city. affordable housing to invest more money in city parks. The city modernized the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections and established the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure as well as the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.
Through partnerships with the city’s workforce, Gilman said the Peduto administration was able to “change the culture of city government to reinvest in our workers, our infrastructure and our neighborhoods.”
“We are certainly leaving a government that is more professional and competent than the one we have inherited. I don’t think people give enough credit to the literal administration of a government, ”said James Hill, Peduto’s special assistant. “The actual administration of a city is often a little less glamorous, but I think history will show that we made the investments. “
Hill said the Peduto administration also “brought to the fore issues that were never taken very seriously” but needed to be highlighted in local government, such as affordable housing and racial equity. .
City Councilor Bobby Wilson said Peduto was responsible for “bringing this city into the 21st century.”
Labor continued after the loss
Peduto failed in his candidacy for a third term as mayor. In the May primary, Gainey defeated Peduto to win the Democratic nomination in a town that has not elected a Republican mayor since the 1930s. Gainey won in November and, in turn, entered history by becoming the city’s first black candidate to be elected mayor.
Peduto said he hoped to use another term as mayor to create a strong home improvement program that would turn vacant and dilapidated homes into affordable housing across the city. He was also eager to use President Joe Biden’s infrastructure funding to make major, long-term improvements throughout the city.
After failing in his bid for re-election, Peduto said he tried to make the most of the time he had left.
“We realized we had a countdown,” he said.
Peduto said he used his last months in office to create the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, present the first budget for the city’s new park tax, designate Hays Woods as one of the biggest Pittsburgh parks and leading major developments, like the Esplanade project. advance to Castle.
Peduto said he was also convinced he was leaving a government “that mayor-elect Ed Gainey can start running with.”
“It was a calling,” he said of his involvement in city politics. “There was something worth fighting for. I just made it my mission in life to work to make this city a place where there would be economic opportunities for others to call it home.
The city council on Tuesday recognized Peduto’s work, designating the day as Mayor William Peduto Day in the city.
“There was something extremely special about this administration,” Board chair Theresa Kail-Smith told Peduto. “You put the city of Pittsburgh first in a way that I haven’t seen a lot of people do.”
City Councilor Erika Strassburger applauded Peduto for making Pittsburgh a leader on climate issues and for fighting hatred and extremism. She called him a “university mayor” who put in place hundreds, if not thousands, of policies and changes in city government.
Peduto said he was grateful for having had the chance to serve his city.
“Growing up in Scott Township, I never thought it would have been possible. There is nothing in my background that would ever have suggested that I would ever have a chance to have this job, ”said Peduto.
“The very fact that I was able to have this opportunity,” he added, “there are so many people I am eternally grateful for for believing in me and helping me get here. “
Peduto looks ahead
Peduto said he felt some anxiety about life outside of Pittsburgh politics.
“It becomes comforting in the routine,” he said. “The question arises as to how are you going to perform outside of this routine. It really becomes the question you think about more than loss of function.
Peduto said he plans to start a consulting business, with more details on that business to be released next month. He said he had also spoken with officials in Washington about the possibility of playing a role in the State Department.
Outside of work, he said he wanted to adopt a dog. He leans for an English Bulldog.
“I honestly believe that for the first time in a long time I am going to have the opportunity to have a dog,” said Peduto. “I just didn’t have time to be able to take care of a dog on my own. And now I think I will.
Peduto said he hopes the townspeople are proud to be residents of Pittsburgh under his administration.
“We have proven to the world that Pittsburgh is a city that can be overturned and raised up,” said Peduto. “We’ve proven to the world that Pittsburgh is a tough blue collar city with a heart of gold.
“We have proven to the world that this is a city worth fighting for.”