Mayor Peduto: The councilman is well-prepared to lead the city

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Councilman Bill Peduto had to work hard to become mayor of Pittsburgh, yet his Democratic Party's dominance means he can coast to victory on Nov. 5 rather than sprint to cross the long-sought finish line. Instead, he's working harder.

A race that started with scant opposition from Republican Josh Wander of Squirrel Hill diminished further after he deserted what minimal party backing he had by selling his home and going to work overseas. An even less-significant challenger is independent Les Ludwig.

Even though Mr. Peduto, in reality, is the only candidate in the race, he hasn't slowed down. He's been making campaign appearances while meeting with civic, business and community leaders, putting together detailed plans intended to transform the office from one characterized by scandal and embarrassment to one built on a foundation of integrity and trust.

Come January, Pittsburgh will replace an uninterested, accidental incumbent -- Luke Ravenstahl -- with one of his rivals, the energetic, 48-year-old Mr. Peduto, a Point Breeze resident who has an open mind, unbridled enthusiasm for his city and a raft of research papers on everything from crossing guards and public ferries to development and budgeting.

Mr. Peduto, council's District 8 representative since 2002, has been a serious student of best government practices during his tenure, making contacts locally, nationally and even internationally. He is ready to be mayor of Pittsburgh.

His agenda is daunting, but he makes it sound doable.

He intends to open up government contracting practices so people who have been shut out under a pay-to-play culture will be invited in.

He plans to focus on fiscal discipline. Mr. Peduto, an early advocate for the state's Act 47 fiscal recovery process, is committed to retaining state oversight and making sure Pittsburgh lives within its means to get through a period of heavy debt that should ease by 2018.

When he says he wants sustainable development, he doesn't just mean environmentally green projects; for Mr. Peduto the term encompasses street grids that are safe for pedestrians and all forms of transportation. He wants to improve neighborhood business districts, provide incentives to employers who create living-wage jobs and demand housing that will draw new residents (and revenue) -- his target is 20,000 in the next decade.

To accomplish his goals, he will reorganize the executive office of the mayor, creating seven leadership positions over his department directors. That should put responsibility for policies where it belongs -- in the mayor's office. He has agreed to take advice from Pittsburgh's foundation community -- a constituent whose input hasn't always been welcomed by the current administration -- and he hopes to reap some financial assistance from it as well.

He recognizes the importance of choosing a public safety director who can restore public confidence in a police department rocked by scandal under Mr. Ravenstahl.

Like mayors who have preceded him, he also wants to figure out an agreement that gives the city more revenue from its vibrant nonprofit organizations. That may be his most ambitious goal of all.

Bill Peduto has earned widespread backing, the Post-Gazette's endorsement and the right to be mayor. He is ready to show Pittsburgh what an engaged, informed, forward-thinking mayor can accomplish.

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