Pittsburgh's black community will hold convention for mayoral choice


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African-American leaders will hold a convention of registered black city voters in two weeks to endorse the mayoral candidate they judge will fight hardest for the community while in the mayor's office.

Former city Councilman Sala Udin announced the "Pittsburgh Black Political Convention" at a City-County Building news conference surrounded by more than 20 other leaders, including Black Political Empowerment Project leader Tim Stevens.

All Pittsburgh mayoral candidates will be issued a "Black Agenda" on Friday listing issues of importance to the black community, to which interested candidates will have to respond by April 17. They will address voters at a forum at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Lincoln-Larimer on April 19 and the endorsement vote will happen a day later.

"Although African Americans make up over a quarter of the population, too many black Pittsburghers live in conditions that are unacceptable to us and they should be unacceptable to the mayor of the city of Pittsburgh," Mr. Udin said.

Two of the four Democrats vying for the party's nomination in the May 21 primary are black: state Rep. Jake Wheatley of the Hill District and political newcomer A.J. Richardson of Sheraden. City Councilman Bill Peduto of Point Breeze and former state Auditor General Jack Wagner of Beechview are white.

Any candidate should be able to get the group's backing, Mr. Udin said, as long as they show convincingly how they would tackle poverty, unemployment, education, crime and other issues.

"A white candidate with a solid endorsement of the black agenda can very easily win the endorsement of the black convention. We've been waiting for white candidates to speak up for black people for a long time," he said.

Organizers will be checking voters against a computerized list of registered voters in the city, he said. Others will be allowed to sign registration forms on the spot.

Mr. Wheatley is a former council aide to Mr. Udin.

More information is available at: http://www.blackconvention.com/.

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Tim McNulty: tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581. Follow the Early Returns blog at earlyreturns.sites.post-gazette.com or on Twitter at @EarlyReturns. First Published April 4, 2013 8:45 PM


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