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City Controller Michael Lamb enters mayoral race with confidence

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 1:08 p.m.
In front of a crowd of supporters with his wife Jill by his side City Controller Michael Lamb announces the kick-off to his campaign for mayor inside Cannon Coffee in Brookline Wednesday morning, Jan, 16, 2013. (JC Schisler | Tribune-Review)
In front of a crowd of supporters with his wife, Jill, by his side, Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb announces his campaign for mayor inside Cannon Coffee in Brookline on Wednesday morning, Jan. 16, 2013. JC Schisler | Tribune-Review
City Controller Michael Lamb shares a laugh with his 92-year-old aunt Patsy Joyce of Beechview after he announced his campaign for mayor inside Cannon Coffee in Brookline Wednesday morning, Jan. 16, 2013. (JC Schisler | Tribune-Review)

Pittsburgh's fiscal watchdog on Wednesday called himself the man to beat as he officially made the Democratic bid to become the city's next mayor a three-way contest.

“I bring to this race my background, my record of accomplishments, my hard work,” city Controller Michael Lamb said in announcing his candidacy at Cannon Coffee in Brookline. “Based on that, I feel like the front-runner in this race.”

Lamb, 50, of Mt. Washington faces six-year incumbent Luke Ravenstahl, 32, of Summer Hill and three-term City Councilman Bill Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze.

They'll face off in the May 21 primary. Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner of Beechview, also a Democrat, said he is considering running.

Pittsburgh has not had a Republican mayor since 1934. There are none in the race for November's election.

Lamb said taxpayers suffer from missed opportunities to make the city better because leaders focus more on taking credit and assigning blame rather than fixing glaring problems such as infrastructure, the pension system and public schools.

If elected, Lamb said his top priorities would be energizing residents to expect better government, addressing concerns of crime and violence throughout the city, and utilizing public works to fix “crumbling infrastructure rather than just paving over it.”

“In the end,” Lamb said, “what people want is to be served, and they deserve to be served better.”

Ravenstahl became mayor in 2006 and has said he intends to campaign on the progress made during his administration. He cited balancing the budget while not raising taxes and lowering crime rates for seven consecutive years as well as neighborhood development and job creation.

“Those are the ... things we are most proud of,” Ravenstahl said.

Peduto has said he wants to replicate citywide the success of development in his East End district that includes mixed-use complex Bakery Square.

Lamb has served as city controller for five years. During that time, he said, he has made the business of city government more open and held city officials and departments responsible and efficient through a series of audits focused on wasteful spending.

Norma Kreutz said that is a key reason she plans to support Lamb, a Mt. Washington neighbor and fellow member of St. Mary of the Mount Parish.

“He has made a good controller, and I am sure he will make a wonderful mayor,” said Kreutz, 71. “He will get the city back on its feet.”

Jim Gregg, 61, of Greenfield, said he has known Lamb for more than 20 years.

“He is an honest person with lots of integrity,” Gregg said. “I think he will be an excellent mayor.”

Prior to serving as controller, Lamb, an attorney, served as the last Allegheny County prothonotary, supporting the 2005 vote that eliminated the elected row office position.

The Beechview native is a board member for the Kane Foundation, the Catholic Youth Association, the Downtown Pittsburgh YMCA and the 3 Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Project. He was the founding co-chairman of A Plus Schools.

“I'm running for mayor for one simple reason: I love Pittsburgh,” Lamb said. “I was born here. I will die here. But in the time between, I want to make this a better city.”

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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