Peduto declares for mayor, secures Fitzgerald endorsement
Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto made his mayoral candidacy official on Thursday night to hundreds of supporters during his annual holiday fundraiser.
Peduto promised to build bridges connecting Pittsburgh's past to its future by “breaking the shackles of the old rusty political machine forever” and improving neighborhoods such as Beltzhoover and Homewood.
“We're going to be putting forth a new agenda, a new vision: to make this city the city that it can be,” Peduto said, drawing cheers from the crowd at the Crucible Building, a converted Strip District factory.
The announcement came as no surprise. Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze has postured since last year to take a run at Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in the 2013 Democratic primary.
The surprise came with an announcement by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald that he was endorsing Peduto.
“I'm proud to be here tonight to endorse and proudly proclaim that I am supporting Bill Peduto as the next mayor of the city of Pittsburgh,” Fitzgerald said.
Peduto staffers estimated the crowd at 1,200. Supporters sipped “Peduto Punch” while listening to Latin dance music in a large former factory floor decorated with large balloons hanging from the ceiling.
“He's our guy,” said Robert Olinger, president of the Downtown-based International Alliance of Theatrical Employees Local 3, which represents about 400 members and extras in the Pittsburgh area. “We think he'd make a good mayor.”
Peduto's probable Democratic opponents — Ravenstahl and city Controller Michael Lamb — solidified their own campaigns Thursday. Both announced they hired veterans from President Barack Obama's political team as campaign staffers.
Lamb said he hired Anne Batchelder as his campaign manager and Sadie Sterner-Restivo as finance director. Batchelder was deputy field director for Western Pennsylvania for Obama's re-election campaign. She was a regional field director in Western Pennsylvania during the president's 2008 campaign and served on his transition team.
Sterner-Restivo was campaign manager for Pennsylvania Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane during the primary. She previously was deputy chief of staff for state Treasurer Rob McCord.
Lamb, 50, of Mt. Washington said the pair bring a “wealth of experience and leadership” to his campaign. The two-term controller said he hosted a successful fundraiser Downtown on Wednesday night, but declined to disclose how much money he raised.
“We had a very good event, our most successful event ever,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, Ravenstahl announced the hiring of Aletheia Henry as his campaign manager. Henry worked on the Obama political team for five years, most recently as general election director for Pennsylvania in 2012.
Lamb and Ravenstahl, 32, of Summer Hill have not officially declared their candidacies but both said they intend to run.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, 64, of Beechview is considering a run for mayor.
Lamb and Henry declined to comment on Peduto's announcement.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.