Pittsburgh's mayor, wife separating

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Three weeks after sweeping to re-election and claiming a four-year term as mayor of Pittsburgh, Luke Ravenstahl acknowledged that he and his wife Erin have separated.

"For some time, like many couples, Erin and I have been working hard to build a successful marriage and have faced the challenges associated with that. Sadly, Erin and I have decided that it is in our family's best interest to formally separate," the mayor said in a news release issued last night.

"As public people, we recognize that we must share this information. We have strived to work through our challenges and to do so as privately as possible. However, now reaching the decision to formally separate, we felt we should let Pittsburgh know," Mr. Ravenstahl said.

The mayor initially made the disclosure during an interview that aired last night with KDKA-TV, during which he acknowledged dealing with the pressures of living a public life and said his wife has not always been comfortable with the public nature of his job.

"She doesn't like the limelight," Mr. Ravenstahl told KDKA. "She didn't like the fact that I became the mayor. She doesn't like the public nature of position. She she would have liked it if I wasn't the mayor, if I wasn't a public figure."

The Ravenstahls were married in 2004. They lived in a three-bedroom home on Cerise Street in Summer Hill, in the northernmost fringe of the city. They have a son, Cooper, who was born a year ago.

In the KDKA interview, Mr. Ravenstahl was asked to respond to rumors of infidelity that have followed him.

"Erin and I have made a decision ... we're not going to sit here and answer questions and rumors ... Those things have been out there for some time. We have agreed to deal with this in a very personal way and will continue to do that," he said.

Mr. Ravenstahl told KDKA that the pressure of the world of politics had gotten so bad recently that he considered getting out of politics.

"When you're the mayor and a public figure, there are consequences. I was very close to not running for this office. My interest is in protecting my family," he said.

In a separate statement, Erin Ravenstahl said the decision to separate was a difficult one for the couple.

"I will always be Luke's friend and continue to share with him our love of our son, Cooper. We will continue to make sure that he is raised in a loving and supportive family. For his sake, and the sake of our entire family, I thank Pittsburgh for respecting our privacy and allowing us to deal with this as well as we can under difficult circumstances, made all the harder by the public nature of our family."

She said she and her husband will not be making any further comments about their relationship.

"I sincerely hope that the public and the media will allow us to work through our issues as any family would -- in the privacy of our own homes. We thank you for your support and understanding during this difficult time," she said.

The couple said they have retained the services of attorney Richard A. Sprague to address privacy matters.

Mr. Ravenstahl and his wife began dating in their senior year at North Catholic High School. She was from Spring Hill, he from Observatory Hill. They said a love of sports and a reserved approach to social life united them.

While he attended college, Mrs. Ravenstahl worked, first as a bank teller, then an accounting secretary. She then enrolled in the Pittsburgh Beauty Academy and worked at a series of hair styling salons.

Mr. Ravenstahl was elected to City Council at age 23 and was inaugurated in January 2004. The Ravenstahls married six months later. He ascended to the mayor's office in September 2006, following the death of Bob O'Connor.

Sadie Gurman contributed to this report. Matthew P. Smith can be reached at msmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1738.


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