Sunday Forum: They would be mayor
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Despite tough economic times, Pittsburgh has fared better than most cities, being recognized by publications like Time and Forbes as a top-10 city for job growth. But there is still work to be done and that is why I am running for re-election as Pittsburgh's mayor.
I have presented an 11-point plan to continue us on the road to Pittsburgh's Third Renaissance. Top issues include solving our city's long-standing cost problems in pension and debt; keeping our neighborhoods safe and clean; and continuing the job creation that has kept Pittsburgh's economy ahead of the national curve.
We have moved Pittsburgh from the brink of bankruptcy to a city with a savings account of $100 million. We've done this by adopting a no-new-debt, "pay-as-you-go" investment policy while improving public safety and infrastructure. We've received four bond-rating upgrades, showing investors that Pittsburgh is a smart place to do business.
To further improve Pittsburgh's finances, we must continue to be more efficient, which includes sharing services with neighboring governments. Merging with the county would further drive down costs.
To tackle the city's pension problems, I will leave no stone unturned while living up to the commitments made to our retirees. My four-point plan for pension reform has received buy-in from leaders across the state. I have proposed leasing the city's parking garages, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars. I also will continue to contribute more city money to the pension fund than required by law. We will complete Pittsburgh's financial recovery.
To keep our neighborhoods safe and clean, I will continue to make record investments in public safety, put more officers on the street and arm our public-safety forces with the technology, vehicles and training they need. We will continue to fight blight, tearing down abandoned homes and replacing them with new housing and beautification projects. Our strategy has paid off, with three years of record lows in crime.
But there is more to be done. Any life lost to violent crime in Pittsburgh is unacceptable. Our Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime will continue to bear fruit, bringing to Pittsburgh top national experts and implementing proven strategies to reduce violent crime and save lives.
We also must have a high-quality workforce to build our economy and sustain the billions of dollars of investment now flowing into the city. Preparing Pittsburghers for future jobs is at the root of the Pittsburgh Promise, which has provided nearly 800 scholarships to high-school graduates to get the higher education they need to succeed. I will continue to invest in small business, for which I have created loan funds that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. Our business districts will continue to emerge as the economic engines of our neighborhoods.
Together, we've made major advances in Pittsburgh's financial recovery, public safety, workforce and economic development. But there is more to be done. That's why I'm running for mayor and why I need your support to make our vision for Pittsburgh's Third Renaissance become a reality.
First Published May 17, 2009 12:00 am