On the Record with mayoral candidate AJ Richardson | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

On the Record with mayoral candidate AJ Richardson

"It's been an awesome journey for me. There were obviously one or two minor hits."

Historians may eventually say that City Paper erred in calling the 2013 Democratic mayoral primary for AJ Richardson before the election actually took place

But in case we're wrong, and one of those other guys manages to pull out the win, we wanted to check in with Richardson, of Sheraden, to find out what his experience was like running for the city's top job, and whether he had further political plans.  

Are you glad you ran for mayor? What was the experience of your first campaign like?

It's been an awesome journey for me. There were obviously one or two minor hits. But I've grown from it and learned to keep moving forward. I think there are seasoned politicians who would have dropped out after taking some of the hits I took in this campaign.

You got a DUI during this campaign. Do you think you got an unfair shake over it and if so, why?

I think if I was a typical candidate with a traditional look, it wouldn't have gotten the play that it did. If people would close their eyes and listen to me, they would see that what I'm saying makes a lot of sense. A campaign is not about how a person looks: It's about issues, and these issues affect everyone regardless of who you are. Do I look different than the other candidates? Am I a little outside-of-the-box? Sure, but I think you have to go outside of the box sometimes to find solutions.

Do you think if Jack Wagner were the same person but with face tattoos, he'd have had as much success in public office?

If Jack Wagner had face tattoos, he'd finally get my vote. Though I'd probably be the only one.


If you don't win the mayor's race, what are your political plans? Will you run for office again?

If I don't win, I plan on challenging Theresa [Kail-Smith] for city council in the fall, either as an independent or a write-in. District 2 is my home. Living in this area for several years now, you develop an understanding of what people want and need. There are very different communities in District 2 with varying needs, but they all have the common goal of a better quality of life. They need a councilperson who will strive and work for the entire district, and that's not what Theresa Smith has done. … She's had two terms to make a difference, and it's time for her time on council to end.

What advice would you give to someone considering a run for public office?

Make sure that you're familiar with prayer, because your faith is definitely going to be tested in this process. On the political side, make sure you have at least some money available for your campaign. Flyers and lawn signs aren't that expensive, but when you're paying for it out of your own pocket and trying to pay your own personal bills, it's difficult. You can have the biggest heart and the best intentions, but you still need that money to help get that message across.