Cohesive council: Its support for Kraus as president is a good start

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Pittsburgh City Council made a sound choice in electing Bruce Kraus as its newest president, a selection that should prove helpful to his former colleague, Bill Peduto, as he begins his term as mayor.

The two have been longtime collaborators. Mr. Peduto has supported Mr. Kraus from the beginning, when he sought a seat on council during a seven-way special election in 2006. Mr. Kraus, 59, did not win that time, but a year later he did, and he was re-elected in 2011.

Although the council president has the same voting power as his eight fellow members, the leadership position gives Mr. Kraus the authority to schedule public hearings, preside over weekly meetings and appoint committee chairs. Having Mr. Kraus in the position is expected to help Mr. Peduto advance his own agenda.

Despite their history, Mr. Kraus has said he will not be a mere rubber stamp, and his independent approach on council thus far suggests that will prove true.

When he joined council, he brought an ideal background, with hands-on experience, as a business owner of an interior design firm, president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce and active South Side resident. True to his word, he has spent his time on council as a vocal advocate for his neighborhood, documenting problems associated with its burgeoning night life and demanding attention from police and the city’s public works division.

He has been a diplomatic and careful member, eager to build consensus and include all viewpoints in council’s discussions. His style and temperament could prove to be just right for buttressing relationships among members and between council and the mayor’s office — something that’s been lacking in recent years.

Mr. Kraus captured the votes of six other members for the presidency, with only two no votes, a cohesive start for the new council. His selection represents a promising start for what could be a new and productive era in city government.

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