2013 City Council Races

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mayoral race begins in earnest at Squirrel Hill forum

Posted By on Sun, Jan 27, 2013 at 5:22 PM

Much of this afternoon's mayoral debate -- the first such event of the 2013 season -- involved City councilor Bill Peduto attacking Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Ravenstahl attacking Bill Peduto … and City Controller Michael Lamb agreeing with each of them about the other.

Eventually, video of the debate, and an ensuing forum for candidates in city council district 8, will be posted online by the Democrats of the city's 7th Ward. Hell, it may even be up by the time you finish this post, which I'll warn you is like 1,100 words long.

There were some points of agreement during the discussion, which was hosted by the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club before a standing-room-only crowd at Squirrel Hill's Wightman Community Building. All three candidates seemed supportive, for example, of a $80 million tax subsidy to spark development at the site of the former Hazelwood coke works. And all agreed that the city's large non-profits had to contribute more to the city's bottom line. ("They need to do more," was how Raventahl put it. "That's just the reality of the situation") Though there were debates about how best to approach it: Lamb seemed to cast his net most widely, discussing a plan to have paramedics visit residents with chronic health conditions between emergency calls, in hopes of reducing emergency-room visits. (UPMC and Highmark were supporting a pilot project, said Lamb: "It's probably the only thing they've agreed on this year.")

The most pointed exchanges were between Peduto and Ravenstahl, and some of them revisited issues that date back to the mid 2000s, when both men were on council. During that time, for example, Peduto voted against an $18 million tax subsidy for a PNC Bank office tower; Ravenstahl favored it. Today, Ravenstahl said the project helped spawn a wave of Downtown construction, and said of Peduto, "I assume he's proud of his vote."

Peduto's reply: "It's a hard case to make that PNC doesn't have the money and needed" subsidies.

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