A number of years ago, Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus was driving through the city one weekend when he saw a man painting benches in the park. At a meeting earlier today, Kraus said that man was Kevin Acklin, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff.
Acklin, has come a long way from painting park benches — an activity he says was actually illegal. For several years, he served as executive director of Renew Pittsburgh, a volunteer, city revitalization organization. In 2007, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on Allegheny County Council and in 2009
, he ran his own mayoral campaign as an independent.
He was chosen as the mayor's chief of staff in 2013
and earlier today, after serving in the position throughout the mayor's first term in office, Acklin announced his resignation.
"Over the past four years, you have afforded me the once in a lifetime opportunity to wake up every day and go to work for the residents of the City of Pittsburgh," Acklin wrote in his letter of resignation. "There is no greater thrill than to work to change people's lives for the better, rebuild the fabric of our city, and lead talented staff who share our commitment to honest and transparent government. I have worked diligently, every day, to honor our commitment to the residents of Pittsburgh and I have never once taken this position for granted."
Acklin's announcement was made during the Mayor's 2018 Budget Hearing before Pittsburgh City Council earlier today. In his letter Acklin wrote, "I now reluctantly feel called to return to the private sector."
"Kevin was not only a leader, he was a friend," Peduto said during today's budget hearing. "He's not going anywhere, he's still going to be in Pittsburgh and he's going to stay involved."
Acklin will continue to serve as chairman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority
. The URA is charged with economic development and during his time overseeing the authority, Acklin has often found himself at the center of one of the most pressing issues facing the city: affordable housing
. He helped negotiate an agreement
with the Pittsburgh Penguins to redevelop the Lower Hill District and in 2015
, he facilitated an agreement between the owners of the Penn Plaza Apartments in East Liberty and the tenants they were evicting.
"It's the best job I'll ever have," Acklin said at the meeting today.