PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Voters in Pittsburgh may have another choice for mayor this November. An East Liberty man says he is running as an independent to give voters a common-sense alternative.

When the Democratic Party in May nominated Pennsylvania Rep. Ed Gainey, who is more liberal than incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto, it created an opening for a moderate independent to position himself as a mainstream alternative.

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That’s exactly what Marlin Woods hopes to do.

Woods is a 48-year-old benefits consultant and small business owner, a resident of East Liberty, who is seeking support to mount an independent campaign for mayor against Gainey and the Republican write-in winner Tony Moreno.

Political editor Jon Delano asked Woods why voters should elect him mayor.

“Because I am not a career politician. I am a business owner. I know how to lead people. I know how to run a successful business, Jon,” he says. “I am as connected to the issues and challenges in the corporate and non-profit boardroom, Jon, as I am the matters of the neighborhood.”

“There are no special interests or radical organizations involved in my campaign. This is a true grassroots campaign that quite frankly appeals to every Pittsburgher that wants safer streets and real equitable growth.”

Delano: “So who exactly is Marlin Woods?”
Woods: “So Marlin Woods is a husband, a father, a community leader, a business leader. Marlin Woods is the son of Eric and Francine Woods. Marlin Woods was born and raised in East Liberty. Marlin Woods went to Peabody High School.”

Woods lives three blocks from where he grew up and says he represents commonsense leadership.

“The families of our city want and deserve common sense leadership, Jon. They care about vibrant streets where their children are safe to play, updated infrastructure that connects them to business districts and empowers small businesses. And then they want leadership that works with our city’s growing tech sector to create pathways to build and create generational wealth,” he says.

Woods sees himself as the middle between Gainey on the far left and Moreno on the right.

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“I’m in the middle,” he says.

Woods has a number of priorities.

In addition to COVID recovery, he notes, “There is police reform, or what I like to call police-community reform. And then there is health care equity, transparency, measurement and accountability. And there is affordable housing with pathways to home ownership.”

Woods says the rise of violence in the city is very personal to him.

“This hit our house, Jon. My niece was at a high school graduation party recently and was shot in the abdomen.”

She’s recovering, but Woods says the community needs to step up to work with better-trained police and more police of color.

“When my wife calls the police, I want them to show up, and I want police to be on the beat and available to show up,” he says.

“So it’s not necessarily defunding the police, but it’s more so shifting the allocation of funds into other areas. Police are overworked and underpaid.”

These and other issues are likely to be hotly debated this fall.

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Woods needs about 1,200 signatures to get on the ballot. As for money, he says he’s confident he will raise the money needed to run a very visible race this fall against Gainey.