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Ravenstahl officially announces bid for re-election as Pittsburgh mayor

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl officially opens his campaign headquarters and announces his candidacy for re-election on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, to a packed room of supporters, volunteers and the media in the Strip District. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Luke Ravenstahl supporter Vinessa Turpin, 61, of Bloomfield sports a magenta hat with a 'Mayor Luke' sticker and a 'four more years' button depicting President Obama and Ravenstahl at the kick-off for the mayor's re-election campaign on Tuesday, February 19, 2013. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he would hold taxes to current levels, invest in neighborhoods and reduce debt if elected to another four-year term this year.

Ravenstahl, 33, of Summer Hill, who officially announced his re-election bid Tuesday night before about 200 supporters at his new campaign headquarters in the Strip District, said he plans to continue policies that he began when he took office in 2006 after the death of Mayor Bob O'Connor.

“We created a climate for growth,” Ravenstahl said. “We haven't raised taxes in seven straight years. We are on the verge of getting out of (state) oversight.”

City Councilman Bill Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze and Controller Michael Lamb, 50, of Mt. Washington are challenging Ravenstahl for the Democratic nomination in the May 21 primary.

Asked for comment, Lamb said he opened his campaign headquarters on Tuesday in a gala affair in Greenfield, offering free refreshments and inviting supporters to pick up nominating petitions that candidates need to appear on the ballot. Peduto said he would do the same on Thursday in East Liberty.

“It's the public start of the field campaign,” Peduto said. “Our field campaign has been in operation since last year, but ... getting others involved in the campaign starts with the opening of the campaign headquarters.”

Ravenstahl's supporters gathered in a Smallman Street storefront that served as President Obama's Pittsburgh headquarters last year. They included high-ranking advisers such as Ravenstahl Chief of Staff Yarone Zober, and department directors, authority board members, union representatives and developers.

“He's done a great job, and we want to continue the momentum for the next four years with his leadership,” said Gregg Perelman, managing partner at Shadyside-based Walnut Capital, the developer of the Bakery Square projects in East Liberty.

Darrin Kelly, a member of the Pittsburgh Firefighters Union executive board, said there was never a doubt that the membership would back Ravenstahl.

“The city has grown under his administration, and that did not happen by accident. It was his leadership and guidance and his commitment to grow this city. ... Why would you want to change course?” said Kelly, 37, of Lincoln Place.

Ravenstahl has formidable competition in a primary for the first time since he won a special race in 2007 for a two-year term. He ran unopposed in the 2009 primary because Peduto dropped out of the race, then took the general election with 55 percent of the vote.

This year, he's running under the shadow of a federal investigation of police Chief Nate Harper.

Ravenstahl said he would make decisions based on the outcome of the investigation that are best for the city, not for his political campaign. He promised an expansive grass-roots campaign, going door to door in every neighborhood.

“This is an election that's going to be won in the streets,” Ravenstahl said.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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