Ravenstahl sworn in as Pittsburgh mayor

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Luke Ravenstahl, the 26-year-old City Council president from the North Side, was sworn in as Pittsburgh's mayor tonight, in the same conference room where his predecessor, Mayor Bob O'Connor, greeted well-wishers at his inauguration eight months earlier.

John Heller, Post-GazettePittsburgh City Council President Luke Ravenstahl, left, is sworn as the new mayor of Pittsburgh by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Robert C. Gallo, right, in a conference room in the mayor's office at the City-County Building tonight.

Pittsburgh's newly sworn in mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, asks the citizens of the city to remember Mayor Bob O'Connor who died this evening, Friday, September, 1, 2006.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell speaks with KDKA's Ken Rice about the death of Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor.

Mr. Ravenstahl, who became the next in line to succeed Mr. O'Connor as a compromise choice when City Council members deadlocked on a selection for president, was sworn in by Allegheny County Judge Robert C. Gallo.

The new mayor's wife, Erin, stood at his side as he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the laws of Pennsylvania and the charter of the City of Pittsburgh.

He was summoned to the City County building tonight from a North Catholic High School football game. His father, Bob Ravenstahl, a district justice in the city's North Side, is the school's coach, and Mr. Ravenstahl was once place kicker and quarterback for that school team.

Mr. Ravenstahl returned to his North Side home after receiving word of Mayor O'Connor's death shortly before 9 p.m. and was driven to the City County building by a city detective.

The ceremony in which he became the city's 59th mayor -- and its youngest -- took less than 10 minutes.

"Today is certainly a day of great sorrow and grief for the city of Pittsburgh," Mr. Ravenstahl said. He promised that Mr. O'Connor's "words and actions and deeds will serve as a model to my tenure as mayor of the city of Pittsburgh."

Paraphrasing from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, the new mayor spoke of the need for the city to move through a season of grief.

"To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose," Mr. Raventstahl said. "The time will come for Pittsburgh to continue on with its mission. Now is the time for us to look back and reflect on what Bob O'Connor has meant to Pittsburgh."

Word of the swearing in sent reporters and council members and city staff flooding into the fifth floor mayor's offices. Mayoral spokesman Dick Skrinjar oversaw much of the organizing tonight, while visibly shaken staff and council members hovered in the hallways, waiting for Mr. Ravenstahl to emerge from his office.

At 10:15 p.m., Deputy Mayor Yarone Zober delivered an official letter from city solicitor George Specter ceremonially notifying Mr. Ravenstahl of the mayor's death.

Mr. Ravenstahl opened the glass door of the City Council offices and with a taciturn and shaken look, accepted the blue folder holding the letter and then returned to his council office to await the ceremony.

Councilman Bill Peduto, one of the two challengers defeated by Mr. O'Connor in the 2005 Democratic mayoral primary, described himself as shaken but not surprised by last night's developments.

Mr. Peduto was on the telephone with Councilman Doug Shields, Mayor O'Connor's former council aide, when a call came through informing them of the mayor's death.

"He broke down. We talked about it," Mr. Peduto said. "I can't help but feel that Bob got ripped off, in a way. Tonight we have to go through the process. The process has to continue."

That process, which took less than 10 minutes tonight, ended with the youngest mayor in Pittsburgh history and the end of a decades-old dream by his predecessor to lead his city.

After his swearing in, Mayor Ravenstahl met briefly with members of the city staff then returned to his council office where he spoke briefly by telephone with Judy O'Connor, the late mayor's widow.

He then returned home.


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