Whether successful in his mayoral bid or not, William Peduto will not be the Pittsburgh council person for District 8 in the East End next year. The roughly 33,000 people in a district dominated by Shadyside but including parts of Point Breeze, North Oakland and Squirrel Hill North will have their first new representative on the nine-member body in 12 years.
Life is good in the East End, and three Democrats running for the party's bid May 21 are pursuing positive campaigns with few major differences on policy. All are liberals with ties to the party machinery: Jeanne Clark of Shadyside is the party's chair of the 7th Ward, Dan Gilman of Shadyside has the party committee's endorsement and Sam Hens-Greco of Point Breeze is the 14th Ward Democratic chair.
Ms. Clark, 63, has been communications director for environmental group PennFuture the past 13 years, is former press secretary for the National Organization for Women in Washington, D.C., and has long worked on women's and civil rights issues.
Should she be elected to council, she said, her main issues would be: addressing the "poisonous atmosphere" on council and working to emphasize women's voices in a city that still lags in women executives and board members (District 8 itself has never elected a woman); increasing police skills in responding to domestic violence and illegal guns; promoting diversity in officer hiring; and working to improve the climate and environment.
On police diversity, she said, "We need a force that looks like the city. It's vitally necessary for communities to support police and for the police to be part of the communities."
While both her opponents support the city's ban on natural gas drilling, she does not, saying it is unconstitutional and unenforceable and keeps the city from attracting gas industry jobs.
Mr. Gilman, 30, is chief of staff to Mr. Peduto and has worked for him for eight years since graduating from Carnegie Mellon in 2004. (Mr. Peduto was chief of staff to his council predecessor, Dan Cohen, against whom Ms. Clark ran in the 1989 primary for the District 8 job.) While his boss has had a rocky relationship with the Ravenstahl administration, it has been up to Mr. Gilman to keep lines of communication open with other city officials to get common problems -- from potholes to missed trash pickups -- addressed.
He said he is running for the job because "local government allows me to have the most impact on the community I love. Each day when I drive home I can see the improvements my fingerprints are on."
He is campaigning on bringing the latest technology to city services, such as online permitting and tracking snow plows by global positioning systems; assisting entrepreneurship and development; and instituting fiscal changes, including proposals for suburban revenue sharing for use of city services.
Mr. Hens-Greco, 56, is a Weirton, W.Va., native who moved to Pittsburgh in 1987 to start a law practice with his wife, Kathryn (now a county Common Pleas judge), focusing on fair housing and discrimination cases. He forged an expertise on lesbian and gay legal issues that came to the fore in the first years of the HIV/AIDs epidemic in the 1980s.
As councilman he would propose new ways to save city finances, such as forcing major nonprofits to pay a portion of taxes on their properties and covering the rest through selling tax credits to for-profit firms. He would also focus on public safety and stemming gun violence. "People have a human right to be free and safe from terror," he said.
He claimed he would be better than the two other Democrats at building relationships on the fractious council.
"As an attorney you learn to fight for your client, and at the end of the day you have to work with the folks on the other side. Whatever bruises you have, you have to leave them on the table and keep on moving," he said.
Mr. Gilman said "day one I am hitting the ground running," which was something his two foes could not claim. "I bring a youthful, innovative approach to solving the problems of Pittsburgh government," he said.
Ms. Clark said her long resume set her apart. "I have 40 years of writing and presenting legislation on federal, state and local levels," she said.
On the Republican side, Mordecai Treblow of Squirrel Hill is unopposed on the May 21 GOP ballot.
Tim McNulty: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1581. Follow the Early Returns blog at earlyreturns.sites.post-gazette.com or on Twitter at @EarlyReturns. First Published April 29, 2013 4:00 AM