Vote for Harris

He'd strengthen all city neighborhoods

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The Post-Gazette asked supporters of the candidates for mayor of Pittsburgh to write columns on their behalf. Yesterday: Kevin Acklin. Tomorrow: Luke Ravenstahl.

As the chief executive manager of Shadow Lounge LLC (which owns Shadow Lounge and AVA in East Liberty), I understand that it doesn't just take cash and the right connections to make a positive impact on our city. It takes passion. When I talk with Franco Dok Harris, I see the passion in his eyes and expression.

Growing up the son of a Pittsburgh icon, one might expect him to be arrogant or have a sense of entitlement. But it's just the opposite. Dok clearly is drawn to serve the city and its residents. He sees his famous name as a call to duty rather than a free admission ticket to celebrity-filled events. That sense of responsibility is what we need now in our next mayor.

The city has some great momentum behind it, but in order to take it to the next level we need an administration that gets it! Right now we have a city hall that answers to big businesses and campaign contributors and ignores regular citizens. We need a leader who will create a competitive environment for small businesses to grow; one who will foster entrepreneurs and help create thriving business districts in every neighborhood.

Dok Harris's plan for an Office of Small Business Development is just what we need to give hope to the average aspiring entrepreneur who otherwise would have a difficult time getting a business off the ground. How can we expect our neighborhoods to grow and thrive without helping small businesses?

We need a mayor who will embrace the city's growing diverse ethnic populations and not marginalize and ignore certain neighborhoods because they have a low tax base.

Dok has been all over the city in this campaign. We need to see city government in Northview Heights and Larimer, not just Downtown. A rash of violent crimes are plaguing our neighborhoods with virtually no acknowledgement from Grant Street.

Dok's plan to grow local business districts will help combat crime by creating economic hope and vibrancy in neighborhoods long abandoned by city hall. He recognizes that only by reinvigorating our communities with businesses and by returning community centers, libraries, recreational facilities and other activities for our kids can we truly claim to be a city working for our neighborhoods, not for special interests.

Finally, voters should know that the candidate who really understands what sustainability means is Franco Dok Harris. His commitment to sustainable development includes a commitment not only to green technologies, but also to family-sustaining wages. He recognizes that truly sustainable development protects our environment, enhances our regional economy and grows our middle class by providing good wages and benefits to our working families.

His commitment to sustainable development -- big and small -- will help us ensure that our city grows its tax base and serves as an example for towns and cities across the country on how to thrive in the new economy.

Ultimately, it's my experience as a small business owner in East Liberty that has led me to support Franco Dok Harris for mayor. I know that with Mr. Harris in city hall, local businesses, the core of our communities, will finally have an advocate on Grant Street. I know that with Mr. Harris in city hall, we will have a mayor who "gets it." I urge everyone who cares about Pittsburgh, and every one who wants us to be a city of strong neighborhoods, to vote for Franco Dok Harris next Tuesday.

Justin Strong runs Shadow Lounge LLC.


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