Democratic Primary Election 2021: Pittsburgh Mayor | Pittsburgh City Paper

Democratic Primary Election 2021: Pittsburgh Mayor

click to enlarge Bill Peduto, Ed Gainey, Tony Moreno, Michael Thompson - CP ILLUSTRATION: ABBIE ADAMS
CP Illustration: Abbie Adams
Bill Peduto, Ed Gainey, Tony Moreno, Michael Thompson
Three-term mayors in Pittsburgh are rare, and incumbent Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is trying to join that club. But this year, he’s garnered some considerable challenges from state Rep. Ed Gainey (D-Lincoln-Lemington), who is running to Peduto’s left on policing, and from retired police officer Tony Moreno, who is running to Peduto’s right. Math tutor Michael Thompson is also throwing his hat into the ring, further complicating what has been a low-key chaotic primary.

Ed Gainey

Bio: Served as state representative for several Pittsburgh East End neighborhoods since 2013. Prior to that, worked on community development for former Mayors Luke Ravenstahl and Tom Murphy. Received a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University, a historically Black college. Raised in Pittsburgh by a single mother. Lives in Lincoln-Lemington.

Housing: Wants to establish citywide inclusionary zoning to build more affordable units as part of new developments. Says the city needs a new focus on the land bank to bring blighted property that the city owns back onto the tax rolls. Says gentrification is forcing Black people out of the city.

Police: Wants Pittsburgh Police officers banned from using less-lethal weapons, like tear gas, sponge rounds, and flash grenades. Says he would fire officers who commit misconduct more quickly and end mandatory arbitration of police disciplinary cases so the city can discipline easier. Supports ending no-knock warrants.


Environment: Wants to establish an ordinance that would remove lead from city pipes, homes, and soil as part of his focus on “environmental racism.” Supports green infrastructure efforts to mitigate stormwater runoff. Opposed to rate increases at PWSA.

Supporters: Allegheny County Democratic Committee; Young Democrats of Allegheny County; SEIU Healthcare; Steel City Stonewall Democrats; Alliance for Police Accountability PAC; Pittsburgh City Councilor Deb Gross; State Reps. Sara Innamorato, Summer Lee, and Jake Wheatley; Allegheny County Councilors Liv Bennett and Bethany Hallam; Pittsburgh NORML; Western PA Black Political Assembly; United Electrical Local 667.

Tony Moreno

Bio: A retired police officer who worked as a detective in the narcotics unit. Served in the U.S. Army before joining the Pittsburgh Police department. Born and raised in Southern California. Lives in Brighton Heights in the North Side.

Housing: Wants to start a city-funded program to train plumbers, carpenters, and others to rehab abandoned properties to convert into housing units. Says some areas with high rents are driving people out of the city.


Police: Says officers who commit misconduct should be taken off of public-facing duties. Defends the police union for protecting its workforce. Says officers who commit crimes should be dealt with on a criminal level, but different than how the union deals with them. Opposes Peduto’s rule that has officers avoid enforcing laws related to poverty or addiction.

Environment: Environmental plans include having police officers direct traffic during rush hour as a way to ease congestion. Wants to eliminate medians and trees on Grant Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard and then build a canvas of lights with carbon-eating plants over those streets. Wants to hire a private natural-gas related company to purify sewage runoff.

Supporters: Boilermakers union Local 154. Has received in-kind donations from the owners of Tequila Cowboy restaurant in the North Shore, as well as financial support from the owner of the Bigham Tavern in Mount Washington.

Bill Peduto

Bio: Two-term incumbent who served as a Pittsburgh City Councilor for several East End neighborhoods before becoming mayor of Pittsburgh in 2014. Received a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and a master’s from the University of Pittsburgh. Grew up in Scott Township, lives in Point Breeze.

Housing: Says updating the zoning code could allow for more housing near high quality transit, but wants community input first. Pledges support for inclusionary zoning pilot in Lawrenceville and securing a large number of affordable housing tax credits for the city. Created OwnPGH, a $22 million program to support affordable home ownership.


Police: Touts changes he made to the police department following officers using less-lethal weapons on protesters in summer of 2020. Says community policing reforms are working. Supports investing more in the department, citing decreased crime rates over his tenure, which he links to increased police spending. Supports police chief Scott Schubert.

Environment: Says his administration has moved 100% of city operations to renewable power and has divested city’s pension from fossil-fuel companies. Has worked to add dozens of miles of bike lanes to the city, including protected lanes, which he has vowed to continue. Started lobbying efforts to plan for an end to natural-gas development in the region, while maintaining union jobs.

Supporters: United Steelworkers, Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers 1776, SEUI 32 BJ, eight of nine Pittsburgh City Councilors, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, State Rep. Emily Kinkead, Allegheny County Councilor DeWitt Walton, Clean Water Action, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Allegheny-Fayette County Labor Council.

Michael Thompson

Bio: Works as a math tutor at Butler County Community College and also as a ride-hail driver. Graduated from Brown University. Born and raised in Squirrel Hill and lives in Oakland.

Housing: Campaign website says that “housing is a human right” and notes that Thompson lives in public housing. Wants to model Pittsburgh’s equitable development programs after other cities like Atlanta, but hasn’t offered specifics.

Police: Says he ran because policing in the city is a “disaster.” Wants to bust the Pittsburgh Police union. If that can’t be done, wants to dissolve the police department and then have the Pennsylvania State Troopers provide policing to the city. Wants to divert funds from the police to social workers.

Environment: Says city needs to sit down with stakeholders and create a 30-year plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Supports plans to mitigate sewage runoff into the rivers; says it’s a 30-year plan to do so.

Supporters: No endorsements listed by campaign. Campaign site says he won’t accept funds from corporations or developers. No funding listed on the city's campaign website.