Pittsburgh's mayor Ravenstahl sails to easy victory
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl won his first full term Tuesday, winning 55 percent of the vote in a three-candidate race, with 98 percent of precincts reporting.
Independent challengers Franco "Dok" Harris, 30, of Shadyside and Kevin Acklin, 33, of Squirrel Hill won 25 percent and 20 percent of the vote, respectively, according to unofficial returns.
Just 23 percent of Allegheny County voters turned out, the lowest percentage in at least three years.
Democrat Robert Daniel Lavelle won 79 percent of the vote for City Council, surviving a write-in challenge by supporters of Tonya Payne, the council incumbent he beat in the May primary. Democratic City Councilman Bill Peduto, 45, of Squirrel Hill beat Republican challenger Greg Neugebauer, 26, of Shadyside, 82 percent to 17 percent.
"The future is bright, Pittsburgh," said Ravenstahl, 29, of Summer Hill. He declared victory last night about 10:20, saying "there's more work to be done."
Ravenstahl was on the Republican and Democratic ballots after winning both primaries in May. His father, Robert P. Ravenstahl Jr., won re-election last night to a six-year term as a district judge in the North Side.
In a city where Democrats hold a 5-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans, the May primary posed a tougher test for Ravenstahl, said Joseph DiSarro, a political science professor at Washington & Jefferson College.
"The voters have already spoken with respect to Mayor Ravenstahl. This election was nothing more than a ratification of the primary results," DiSarro said. "If there was more voter dissatisfaction (with Ravenstahl), there would have been a more significant opponent. No one else wanted to run."
In three years in office, Ravenstahl has beaten seven candidates in three elections, including last night's. No challenger has gotten more than 35 percent of the vote.
"The outpouring of love over the last eight months is something I can hold on to in those darkest days," Harris said. "People wanted something greater and wanted a positive change."
"We are disappointed in the numbers, (but) very proud of the campaign. I think our message resonated, but it was a low-turnout race," Acklin said.
Ravenstahl will begin his first full term at the helm of a city that, despite successes such as the Group of 20 summit this summer, remains in state receivership and suffers from declining population, a looming budget deficit and a pension underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars.
His most immediate challenge is explaining to City Council and state overseers how he plans to levy $15 million worth of taxes on some combination of commuters, college students, hospital patients and customers of the city's water authority. Ravenstahl has said he will have his plan ready Monday.
"I like what he's done so far. There's more to do, but I think he has a better chance to do it than the other candidates," said Warren Keyes, 59, of the North Side, who voted for Ravenstahl.
After three years in office, some voters said Ravenstahl no longer represents a fresh start for the city.
"I think we need new leadership in Pittsburgh," said Jack Knight, 64, of Downtown. "I think there's too much focus on special interest groups rather than fundamental issues."
Economic concerns weighed heavily on voters.
"We need progress in the economy in the city of Pittsburgh," said Dwight Fong, 72, of Downtown. "Industry, business, and residents need to be brought in."
Ravenstahl's successful handling of the G-20 summit -- which took place with far fewer problems than other host cities experienced -- helped lock up his victory.
"He made the city look good," said Kyle Cunningham, 30, a North Side voter who did not support Ravenstahl in 2007 but voted for him. "I voted for Luke because I couldn't find anything he did wrong this last year."
After three years in office, though, Ravenstahl lost the allure of a fresh start for the city, some voters said.
"I hate the old boys' network of Pittsburgh, and I want to see change," said Lee M. Rothman, 42, a Squirrel Hill lawyer who voted for Harris. Rothman didn't expect Harris to win, but said, "I want to be part of sending a message for change."
A four-year term offers Ravenstahl a chance to put his mark on city government in ways that were not possible during his one- and two-year terms.
"This young man has strong administrative talents that are just starting to show," DiSarro said. "It will be interesting to see if he looks at statewide office in four years."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Harrison eyes stretch run
- Starkey: Artie Rowell’s incredible odyssey
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Emotional send-off awaits Pitt seniors
- Michigan State takes bumpy road to finale against Penn State
- HS highlight reel: Pair of title games to be on tape delay Saturday
- House fire displaces family of 6 in Somerset County
- Gorman: Thomas Jefferson quarterback Kelley savors run after injuries, illness
- Palestinian artist who appealed blasphemy sentence of 800 lashes, prison sentenced to execution
- Knoch girls seek dividends of experience