Pittsburgh Councilman Patrick Dowd today announced his bid to unseat Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in the May 19 Democratic primary.
Announcing his campaign as snow fell in Polish Hill, Mr. Dowd said, "We're not afraid of the elements. As a matter of fact, we like the winds of change that are blowing today."
He criticized Mr. Ravenstahl for being missing in action on issues from campaign finance reform to gun control to the federal economic stimulus package. He said he worked with the mayor last year but is now "completely dissatisfied with what's going on."
As Mr. Dowd was making his announcement, Mr. Ravenstahl's office announced the incumbent would be traveling to the White House tomorrow along with more than 60 other U.S. mayors to meet with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden. The topic, according to the mayor's office, is implementation of the stimulus.
Mr. Dowd said his first act as mayor would be to ban no-bid contracts "for any person that has contributed to the campaign of any official of the City of Pittsburgh." He said he believes there is a correlation between campaign contributions and city contracts that must stop.
Also running in the primary is attorney Carmen L. Robinson of the Hill District, a former police sergeant.
Asked about Mr. Dowd's then-impending entry into the race yesterday, Mr. Ravenstahl welcomed the competition.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to tell my story, to talk about Pittsburgh, to talk about our administration and the wonderful things we think are happening," he said. "So I welcome the opportunity to have a forum to tell our story.
"I'm sure we'll have debates."
Mr. Dowd lives in Highland Park, and Mr. Ravenstahl in Summer Hill. The two entered electoral politics in 2003, when Mr. Dowd toppled incumbent school board member Darlene Harris -- now a council colleague -- and Mr. Ravenstahl beat incumbent councilwoman Barbara Burns.
In 2006, Mr. Ravenstahl became mayor upon the death of Bob O'Connor. Mr. Dowd beat incumbent councilman Len Bodack in 2007.
The race featuring Mr. Dowd, who will turn 41 in March, Ms. Robinson, 40, and Mr. Ravenstahl, won turned 29 two weeks ago, marks a generational shift in Pittsburgh's mayoral politics.