Kraus elected Pittsburgh City Council president

Pittsburgh City Council today elected Councilman Bruce Kraus as its new president, with just two members voting against his appointment.

Mr. Kraus calls himself an ally of Mayor-elect Bill Peduto, which could signal greater cooperation between the administration and city council. But he also said he values the body’s autonomy.

“We will be a body that is independent and will do the job it was sent here to do,” he said.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris, who was unseated as council president with today’s vote, and Councilman Ricky Burgess, who previously held the plum position as finance chair, voted against Mr. Kraus.

Mr. Kraus also made committee appointments, which determine which council members will shepherd through certain kinds of legislation. But it also signals a sort of informal hierarchy within the body.

The most sought-after position, the chair of Finance and Law, went to Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle will chair Public Safety Services, also considered a powerful position. Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who previously chaired Public Safety Services, was assigned Public Works.

Councilwoman Deborah Gross, who was sworn in last month to replace Patrick Dowd, will oversee the Land Use and Economic Development Committee;Councilman Corey O’Connor, the Urban Recreation Committee; Ms. Harris, the Commitee on Performance and Asset Management; Councilman Daniel Gilman, Intergovernmental Services and Mr. Burgess, the committee on Human Resources.

Ms. Kail-Smith also was unanimously elected president pro-tem of city council.

Mr. Kraus has represented District 3, which includes parts of Oakland, the South Side and the South Side Slopes, since 2008 and is the city’s first openly gay elected official.

The vote followed the swearing in of four council members who were elected or reelected last November. Mr. Gilman, the former chief of staff to Mr. Peduto, was sworn in for the first time after winning in November to take his former boss’ seat. Mr. Lavelle, Ms. Rudiak and Ms. Kail-Smith were re-elected to their posts in November.

Moriah Balingit:, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MOriahBee.

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