PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pennsylvania Rep. Ed Gainey, the Democratic nominee for mayor of Pittsburgh, insists it was a broad-based coalition that gave him the victory over Mayor Bill Peduto.
“We brought together a lot of different coalitions. You heard me talk about when I first ran. We wanted to unite Pittsburgh. We want to bring this city together so we intentionally reached out to everybody,” Gainey told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Thursday. “And we saw that coming together. Even on election night, it was amazing just seeing the diversity of people that were at the election night party.”READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Cool Conditions After Cold Front Brings Severe Storms
Gainey credits a number of organizations, including some labor unions like the SEIU and liberal grassroots groups like Unite and One Pittsburgh. And he singled out younger voters whom he says came out to vote in larger numbers than usual.
He said the message is one of change for the city of Pittsburgh.
“Look at the unity in the different groups, different ideologies, coming together in the name of justice, in the name of wanting to see a better Pittsburgh. That shows you that change is here,” Gainey said.
Gainey knows that a majority of Democrats — 54 percent — did not vote for him, but he said he will reach out to everyone in the weeks ahead.
“We’re going to reach out to them as well. We’re going to talk to them. We’re going to make sure we engage them and let them know we’re here for everybody,” Gainey said.
But make no mistake. Gainey, if elected mayor in November, intends to make changes, including in police-community relations.
Delano: How is the police force going to change under Mayor Ed Gainey?
Gainey: There’s going to be a couple of changes. One, we will not tolerate any officers that make racist comments. We’re not going to do it. You can’t grow a city on racism.
“Two, we will definitely be having police officers walk the beat. There’s no question about that.
“Thirdly, we’re not going to over-police communities. We have seen the trauma that has brought to Black and brown communities. We will change that. And we believe that social workers need to go out on calls, and we’re serious about that and will develop that.”
WATCH: Full Interview With Ed Gainey
Gainey said the key to reducing the crime rate in these communities is a more respectful police force.READ MORE: Judge Denies Robert Bowers' Motion For Govt. To Produce Evidence It Monitored His Online Activities
“We have to rebuild the trust that has eroded between police and community. We have to. If not, we can’t get better. So at the end of the day, that’s what I’m focused at. It’s how we build better relationships, and I’m willing to do that,” Gainey said.
Some of the other changes Gainey is promising could impact UPMC and other large nonprofits.
Delano: Will you be suing UPMC and other nonprofits to pay their fair share?
Gainey: We want them to pay their fair share. We will take the action that is necessary. If that means going to court, then we have to go to court.
Throughout his campaign, Gainey said that UPMC and others cannot avoid paying taxes simply by calling themselves non-profits. And given his agenda, he says the city will need the money.
“We want the tax revenue,” Gainey said. “The city needs the tax revenue. There’s no question about that. There are disparities in this city when it comes to the Black and white community that need to be addressed.”
Gainey and many who supported him accuse Mayor Peduto of being pro-development and allowing the displacement of low-income residents.
Delano: Do developers, those who want to construct new office buildings or housing in the city of Pittsburgh, do they have anything to worry about from a Gainey administration?
Gainey: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we’re going to make this city affordable. We’re going to make sure we’re investing in affordable housing. We want to pass inclusionary zoning.
Inclusionary zoning means requiring all developers to set aside some housing for low-income residents. Gainey says that’s key to growing the city of Pittsburgh.
Another big difference from Peduto, says Gainey — he won’t travel the nation or the world.
“Eighty percent of my time is going to be in the city of Pittsburgh. Now, if there some conferences I have to go to or if we’re recruiting business here, of course, I want to be an ambassador for that,” Gainey said. “But I have to make sure that Pittsburgh is moving properly and that requires me to be present.”
Gainey is not the mayor yet. There were over 2,100 write-in votes on the Republican ballot, so he could face an opponent in November. We should know shortly.MORE NEWS: Pa. Native, Penn State Grad Carl Nassib Comes Out As First Openly Gay Active NFL Player
But the last time a Republican won a Pittsburgh mayor’s race was back in 1929.