PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mayor-elect Bill Peduto has known him for years, but he’s not exactly well-known to the public.
Attorney Kevin Acklin will soon be the city’s number two man — as Peduto’s chief of staff.
On New Year’s Day, Acklin sat down with KDKA political editor Jon Delano for an exclusive interview.
As Pittsburgh’s number two person, Acklin says he first met Peduto playing hockey.
“He’s actually a pretty decent skater,” he recalled.
But Acklin says he’s more aggressive, racking up penalties.
“I’m a very competitive person. I don’t like to lose, and when needed, I can be aggressive. I’m Irish and it takes a while for me for the temper to come out but when it does, it’s something,” added Acklin.
As Peduto’s chief of staff, Acklin will need that toughness to implement what he calls Peduto’s visionary ideas for the city.
Acklin: “I’m the guy that gets us from Point A to Point B.”
Delano: “You’re the implementer?”
Acklin: “The implementer — how do we get there, how do we get it done, how do we pay for it, who do I have to hurt to get there.”
No stranger to Pittsburgh politics, Acklin ran against Ravenstahl as an independent in 2007, wearing out shoes door-knocking thousands of homes.
“I learned a lot about the city and about the neighborhoods from that experience. I learned a lot about the issues, who the players are. And so I’m coming to this job — even though I’ve never had a formal position in government — I had the best training. That is, to stand up against the machine and run for this office,” recalled Acklin.
At age 37, married with three young children, Acklin and his two brothers were raised in South Oakland by a single mother and a grandfather who was a Pittsburgh Firefighters battalion chief.
“It starts with a person like my grandfather who was known in the community as someone who was always there to give a hand and from my mom who fought, begged and borrowed to give us a better life,” he said.
And thinking of his own first day as chief next week, Acklin recalls his grandfather and tears up.
Delano: “What’s the emotion that you’re going to feel?”
Acklin: “I just had it. Sorry.”
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