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Ravenstahl's parents relieved the 'weight' has been lifted from son's shoulders

| Friday, March 1, 2013, 10:50 p.m.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announces that he will not run for re-election while his parents, Bobby and Cindy Ravenstahl, look on Friday March 1, 2013. James Knox | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl embraces his mother, Cindy, while his father, Bob, waits to escort them into the mayor's office following his news conference on Friday March 1, 2013. James Knox | Tribune-Review

Bobby and Cindy Ravenstahl stood near their eldest son, Luke, for 44 minutes while he talked to reporters about why he won't seek a third term as mayor.

They struggled with tears and laughter as the news conference progressed.

Robert Ravenstahl, 58, a district judge in Perry North, told the Tribune-Review afterward that he thinks his son is relieved to make public his decision.

“I could not ask for a better son,” he said. “And I could not be more proud of him for making the decision. I know it was not an easy one, and there were many people trying to persuade him to not do it.”

Cindy Ravenstahl, 57, who works as an aide at Allegheny Intermediate Unit, starts treatment Monday for breast cancer. She feels fine, she said, though she clutched a Kleenex to contain her emotions.

“He has a weight lifted off of his shoulders,” she said about the mayor as she relaxed in his office in an oversized leather chair. On his desk behind her, framed photographs showed the three of them and Luke Ravenstahl's son Cooper, 4.

“I think he has been doing this job for everyone else and not for himself for a long while,” she said.

Like any mother, she is protective of “any of my boys” when they endure sharp criticism or difficulties in their personal lives.

“In many ways it was unnatural for a young person to have to conduct their life this way,” she said, citing constant attention that intensified with blogs, Twitter and Facebook postings. “From my perspective, it is very unsettling.”

The mayor told reporters the job he has held since September 2006 took a toll on his family, despite the family's roots in North Side politics. Ravenstahl's grandfather, Robert Sr., was a state House member and Democratic ward leader. One brother, Adam, 28, of Summer Hill is a state representative. Their brother Brad, 31, a retail sales representative for a bulk tobacco supplier, lives in Mars.

When he became mayor upon the death of Mayor Bob O'Connor, Ravenstahl, 33, had been married for two years to his high school sweetheart, Erin. They separated in 2009, about a year after Cooper's birth, and divorced in 2011. When they made their separation public, they noted the stress of the spotlight on their marriage.

Additionally, said his mother: “So many vacations or family events he could not attend because of the job.”

The close-knit family will be there for Luke Ravenstahl when he takes his life in a different direction after his term ends in December, his parents said. His mother stood with him the night he was sworn in.

“It will be so good to have him around the family home, and I am so glad we all have each other,” she said. “We are very blessed.”

She's thankful that her grandson will have the opportunity to spend more time with his father. “I know (Cooper) is proud of him. He always says, ‘My dad works at the Downtown city,' ” she said.

“Right now I am very relieved; we all are. But even more importantly, my son is happy and he has peace of mind. As a mother, that is the most I could ever want for him.”

Salena Zito is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at szito@tribweb.com.

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