Dowd's departure: The councilman takes on a worthy assignment

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Patrick Dowd is leaving Pittsburgh City Council to serve a larger constituency.

In announcing that he will resign the District 7 seat he has held since 2007, Mr. Dowd, 45, of Highland Park will be returning to his roots as an educator. The former history teacher and city school board member will be leading the launch of an ambitious nonprofit organization charged with the laudable goal of advocating for public policies that are good for children.

Allies for Children was created by the local philanthropic and charitable community -- the United Way of Allegheny County, Heinz Endowments, Grable Foundation and the Pittsburgh Foundation. Its aim is to lobby for a broad range of programs with the common goal of helping children, whether that means early childhood education, K-12 learning, homelessness or health issues such as obesity. Various groups take on these individual causes, but they could benefit from a focused, joint effort by a leader with political experience.

The position seems tailor-made for Mr. Dowd, and it proved enticing to him.

A special election will be held in conjunction with the November general election to fill his council seat, and the district and the city will be well-served if his successor brings Mr. Dowd's tenacity, independence and moral compass. He has been a critic of unscrupulous practices of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and a champion for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was instrumental in crafting an alternative to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's plan to lease the city's parking facilities to a private company, and he stood in the way of a plan that would have given Buncher Corp. a $50 million tax abatement deal for a Strip District development.

In resigning from council in mid-July, Mr. Dowd -- an unsuccessful mayoral candidate in 2009 -- also will demonstrate that there can be life after elective office that doesn't involve seeking the next rung on the ladder of power.

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