Ravenstahl first in line to replace mayor

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Council President Luke Ravenstahl, the youngest councilman in city history, would become Pittsburgh's youngest mayor if Bob O'Connor can't return to office.

 Council President Luke Ravenstahl 

Like countless others yesterday, Mr. Ravenstahl, 26, of the North Side, offered support to Mr. O'Connor, who is battling a rare form of cancer.

"I wish to extend my best to Mayor O'Connor and his family during this difficult time," he said in a statement. "He will remain in my thoughts and prayers.

"Knowing Bob and the strong personality that he portrays, I am confident that he will successfully overcome this challenge."

Mr. Ravenstahl, a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, beat Barbara Burns in the 2003 primary to win a seat on council representing the North Side. He was unopposed in the general election that year.

Mr. Ravenstahl, whose term runs through 2007, unanimously won a two-year stint as president in January, when more seasoned members failed to line up the five votes needed. Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle, his last rival standing, was at one point just a vote from the presidency.

When he took that office, he said he shared Mr. O'Connor's desire "to return our city back to prominence and what it is -- the most livable city in America."

His tenure went smoothly until May, when Ms. Carlisle's spending of $134,300 in city funds on 24 consultants came under scrutiny. Mr. Ravenstahl referred the matter to city Solicitor Susan Malie. She passed it on to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. and the State Ethics Commission for review.

Council last month passed, 6-3, a package of spending reforms he sponsored, but it came at the political cost of bitterly dividing members.

It gave Mr. Ravenstahl a veto over his colleagues' spending on consultants, travel and training -- a first for council presidents. He could collect chits by approving spending, but might make enemies by saying "no."

Torsten Ove can be reached at tove@post-gazette.com . Staff writers James O'Toole and Michael A. Fuoco contributed.


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