Gilman in District 8: He's the best of the Democrats for city council

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Pittsburgh Democrats know that, regardless of whether Bill Peduto wins the nomination for mayor, he won't be representing city council District 8 after this year because he's not running for re-election.

This spring, the party faithful have three smart and informed candidates to consider nominating for the run to be Mr. Peduto's successor: Jeanne K. Clark, 63, and Dan Gilman, 30, both of Shadyside, and Sam Hens-Greco, 56, of Point Breeze. In the fall, one of them will face Republican Mordecai D. Treblow, who is unopposed in the May 21 primary.

Ms. Clark has been active in the public arena on behalf of renewable energy, women's rights, civil rights, sustainable development and other progressive causes. She was press secretary of the National Organization for Women and communications director for PennFuture and is chair of the 7th Ward Democratic Committee.

Mr. Hens-Greco opened a law practice in Pittsburgh 20 years ago with his wife, now Common Pleas Court Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco. The firm has focused on discrimination and fair housing cases, some of them from plaintiffs claiming bias due to sexual orientation. He has volunteered with the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force.

Mr. Gilman has been an aide to Councilman Peduto for nine years, most of that time as chief of staff. In that post, he helped write legislation, researched issues and worked to address constituent requests and complaints. Prior to his council job, he worked for U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle in Washington, D.C.

When the candidates were asked by Post-Gazette editorial writers about their top priority, Mr. Hens-Greco said he'd work to reduce gun violence, in part by having the city appoint a czar on the subject, diversify the police force and assign more officers to high-crime areas. Mr. Gilman said economic development, as opposed to just real estate development, was needed to foster jobs, particularly via small startups and recruitment of top college graduates already in town. Ms. Clark said it's necessary to get council and the next mayor to work together to solve the city's problems and that her lack of connection to the mayoral candidates put her in a prime position.

On whether city finances should be released from state oversight under Act 47, Ms. Clark said that since the process did not give Pittsburgh the tools to solve its problems, it should be ended. Mr. Hens-Greco said the city has reached enough fiscal benchmarks to be freed from the state's watch. Mr. Gilman said state oversight should continue because the city still faces tough financial challenges, a view shared by the Post-Gazette.

As to the city's court case to strip UPMC of its tax-exempt status, Ms. Clark called it a "tactical mistake"; Mr. Hens-Greco said the suit was wrong and that Pittsburgh has a vested interest to keep major employers here; Mr. Gilman said he supported the suit, but a statewide solution must address large nonprofits.

Although these candidates provide Democratic voters with a competent array of choices, Dan Gilman stands apart for his knowledge of the inner workings of city government, district issues and constituent service. He has earned the Post-Gazette endorsement for the nomination.

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