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Mayor Bill Peduto's Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin announces resignation

| Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, 11:06 a.m.
Kevin Acklin, chief of staff for Mayor Bill Peduto, speaks with reporters and editors at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Tuesday, January 21, 2014.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Kevin Acklin, chief of staff for Mayor Bill Peduto, speaks with reporters and editors at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Tuesday, January 21, 2014.

Kevin Acklin, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff, announced on Thursday that he would resign that post in January, although he will remain chairman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

"At the conclusion of your first term, and with congratulations on your re-election to a second term, I now reluctantly feel called to return to the private sector," Acklin wrote to Peduto on a resignation letter the city released Thursday morning.

In an interview with the Trib, Acklin said that as his three children grew older and started looking at high school and college, he had to consider their future. He and his family had discussed his career among themselves and with Peduto over the Thanksgiving holiday, he said.

"We felt that today, given our budget hearing before city council, it was a good time to let council and staff know, and it would also give the mayor sufficient time to pick a replacement," Acklin said. "Right now I work every day with 3,000 employees of the city on behalf of 300,000 residents of the city. Now it's time for me to focus on my three favorite residents."

Acklin, 41, who grew up in South Oakland and now lives in Point Breeze, attended Harvard University and earned a law degree from Georgetown University. He had chaired Peduto's transition committee before Peduto hired him as his chief of staff. In that role, he has been the mayor's gatekeeper and spokesman, as well as overseeing development bodies such as the URA, the Planning Commission, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and the Sports & Exhibition Authority.

He worked for years as an attorney, most recently as a partner at Saul Ewing. He'd also practiced at the predecessor to K&L Gates and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Acklin had run for Allegheny County Council in 2007 as a Republican, for Pittsburgh mayor in 2009 as an Independent and has been registered as a Democrat since 2010.

Though he had several possibilities lined up in the legal field, Acklin said he wanted to prevent any possible conflicts of interest by resigning his city job before deciding on any one of them.

Acklin said he'd volunteered to remain on the URA and Peduto accepted.

"Mayor Peduto is probably one of the first mayors in a long while who's been charged with managing growth, prior mayors have largely been about managing decline, in terms of population loss and jobs leaving the city of Pittsburgh," he said. "It's important to us and important to the mayor that we make sure that economic growth in Pittsburgh is for everybody... That's been a passionate part of this job, and it's one that I'll continue."

Together with remaining a regular adviser to the Mayor, Acklin didn't anticipate being far from what was happening in the City-County Building.

"I've been meeting every Sunday night with Mayor Peduto for the last five years; that will continue, in terms as a trusted adviser and friend," he said. Part of that advice will be helping to pick his successor, which he hoped to do by early- to mid-January.

Acklin said members of his family have worked for the city across three generations: His great-grandfather was a Public Works supervisor, his grandfather a battalion chief for the Fire Bureau, his uncle a captain in the Fire Bureau and his stepfather remains an acting foreman in the Department of Public Works.

He said in a 2013 Tribune-Review profile that despite decades of his family's public service, he grew up skeptical of employees who earned jobs and promotions because of who they knew and supported in city politics.

"(My stepfather's) condition for my taking this job was that I would never treat an employee differently because of politics, and he has kept me loyal to that promise," Acklin wrote in his resignation letter.

When he started in 2013, Acklin was paid $107,000 a year in the job. The city's 2018 budget had increased the salary to $111,323, only slightly less than the mayor's salary.

"Now I think it's time to pass the reins to somebody else who can come and carry the policy agenda for the second term," he said.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660, or on Twitter @msantoni.

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