Peduto, Ravenstahl meet to talk challenges of Pittsburgh's mayorship

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Meeting for the first time since February, Democratic mayoral nominee Bill Peduto and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl spoke about both business and personal topics as they planned for the councilman's likely transition into the mayor's corner office come January.

Relations between the pair have been acidic for years and just last month the mayor spent more than $150,000 on attack ads in a failed effort to torpedo Mr. Peduto's nomination, but they tried to move past that in their noon meeting Monday.

"There's a mutual understanding that the past is the past and we have six months to do what's best for Pittsburgh," Mr. Peduto said afterward.

Mr. Ravenstahl, with his administration in the midst of a federal probe into city police and government, met alone in his office for 23 minutes with Mr. Peduto and Kevin Acklin, a Squirrel Hill attorney and former independent mayoral candidate expected to play a major role in a Peduto administration. The mayor was "subdued yet professional," Mr. Peduto said.

The Republican mayoral nominee is Josh Wander of Squirrel Hill, who seeks to overcome a 5-to-1 Democratic registration advantage to become the first GOP mayor of Pittsburgh since 1933. City council President Darlene Harris switched her registration to independent before the May 21 primary to allow for an independent mayoral run, too, but does not have to announce her intentions until August.

The main order of business between Mr. Ravenstahl and Mr. Peduto was the city's 2014 budget, which is required to be submitted to the state Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority by late September. Mr. Ravenstahl agreed to let budget staffers work through the summer with the Peduto team, via Mr. Acklin, while seeking to make a budget presentation later in the year highlighting his administration's successes since taking over in mid-2006.

"We agreed to work with him as we look to put together a budget that would be both reflective of his desires and his missions, while at the same time setting up the opportunity for a potential new administration," Mr. Peduto said.

The Democratic nominee traveled to Harrisburg last week with Mr. Acklin and his current chief-of-staff Dan Gilman to talk to lawmakers and plans to meet with state fiscal overseers on the ICA and the city's Act 47 recovery team as well.

Mr. Ravenstahl also told Mr. Peduto of the personal stresses of the mayor's job, including the loss of private life and the need to find trusted, close advisers. The mayor, who was formerly the council president, noted he didn't have a transition period after late Mayor Bob O'Connor's death in September 2006.

He and Mr. Peduto -- who briefly challenged Mr. Ravenstahl in the following year's mayoral primary -- spent much of those intervening years publicly squabbling.

"We've been in the ring for so many years that there is at some point an understanding that there is a bond that is made even though you may be on the other side," Mr. Peduto said. "Whenever there is a potential passing of a baton, you put personal issues to the side, and that was certainly the case today."

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Tim McNulty: tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581. First Published June 17, 2013 2:00 PM


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