Kevin Acklin is my nephew. He's a good man, and I love him like a son, so there was never any doubt about who I would support for mayor of Pittsburgh. But even if he wasn't a part of my family -- even if I'd met him just a few days ago -- he'd still get my vote.
I'm a firefighter from Overbrook. A union member. A lifelong Democrat. I've lived and worked in this city my whole life -- long enough to know that we need a mayor who cares about the neighborhoods. A mayor who cares about working people. A mayor who cares more about public service than he does about politics.
When Kevin was growing up, he always wanted to be a fireman. His grandfather, Chuck Harris, was a battalion chief for the City of Pittsburgh. Kevin wanted to emulate him. He wanted to grow up and give of himself and help other people just like his Pap did. And that's just what he's done.
After he graduated from Central Catholic, Kevin put himself through Harvard and then on to law school at Georgetown. He worked in Boston, and he did quite well for himself. But I always knew Kevin was coming back to Pittsburgh. That was all he ever wanted.
This is his home.
That's why Kevin co-founded and became executive director of Renew Pittsburgh, a volunteer organization that helps clean up and rebuild neighborhoods all over the city. He helped clean and repaint the Boulevard Cannon in Brookline. He helped clean up Broadway Avenue in Beechview. He helped clean up Volunteer Field in Carrick, so kids in the neighborhood would have a place to play baseball again. He worked on the August Wilson Home in the Hill, the Holy Rosary School in Homewood and the Armstrong Memorial on the North Side.
He's gone to neighborhoods all across Pittsburgh, rolled up his sleeves and gotten his hands dirty to help people where they live. He didn't do it for fame or for press coverage. He did it because he cares. And because he knows that helping each other is what Pittsburghers do.
When Kevin was young, he had it rough. His mom raised him and his two brothers by herself, and they didn't always have a lot. Kevin understands what it's like for a family to live paycheck to paycheck, and to worry that you won't have enough money to pay the bills or put food on the table. He knows what it's like to struggle, and to work and scrape for everything you've ever gotten in your life.
Kevin understands the problems we have in Pittsburgh because he's lived through a lot of them and worked hard to overcome them in his own life. He didn't get to where he got by being lazy. Or by letting other people do work for him. Or by getting other people to prop him up.
His family isn't famous. His friends don't own corporations. He's just a hard-working family man, born in South Oakland and raised in Banksville, who's dedicated himself to helping his family and his neighbors in the community.
For Kevin, that's what being mayor is all about: trying to make a better life for all of us.
He has a plan to reinvest in our neighborhoods and business districts. He has a plan to put more officers on our streets and make our communities safer. He has a plan to save the libraries and the pension fund. He has a plan to bring a renaissance not just to Downtown or along the shores, but to our own homes.
Kevin Acklin has a passion for Pittsburgh and for its people. He has the working-class, Democratic values we need in our mayor. He has the life and the work experience it takes to lead the city and to serve all of its citizens.
Kevin understands the value of humility and the importance of public service. If we elect him mayor on Nov. 3, I know he'll be the hardest-working and caring mayor in America. I know he'll put Pittsburgh first again. And I know he'll make us all proud.
Dan Acklin was a Pittsburgh firefighter for more than 20 years, retiring as a captain in 2007. He also is a retired boilermaker and electrician. He lives in Overbrook.