PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — State Rep. Ed Gainey, now mayor-elect of Pittsburgh, is not the only one giving up his state House seat for another office.
One of his colleagues will soon resign his seat to join the Gainey administration. Sources tell KDKA political editor Jon Delano that state Rep. Jake Wheatley will soon resign his seat in the House of Representatives to take on a new job as deputy mayor to Mayor-elect Gainey.READ MORE: Popular Twitter Account Rates KDKA Reporter Jon Delano's Skype Room
First elected a state representative back in 2002 representing a big part of the city, including downtown, the North Shore and the Hill District, Wheatley is not only tight with Gainey but he also has knowledge and connections in Harrisburg.
“He’s going to be able to make those calls. He’s very close to the governor, one of the first people that supported Governor Wolf,” says Khari Mosley, a local Democratic political analyst.
Democrat Wheatley, a former Marine who ran for mayor in 2013 and has sponsored bills to legalize recreational cannabis, has also worked across party lines in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
“Jake Wheatley is certainly somebody who has demonstrated over the years to get things done and do so across the aisle. I think that’s a good get for the mayor-elect,” says Mike DeVanney, a Republican political strategist.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Morning Rain, Snow Showers On The Horizon
Wheatley’s biggest asset is his friendship with the new mayor. That means he can lay things on the line.
“You need someone who can be honest with you and tell you where you may be going wrong. It’s not about someone just saying, ‘Yes, sir, do whatever you want,'” says Mike Mikus, a Democratic political strategist. “It’s somebody who will speak the truth to him.”
Sources also tell KDKA’s Jon Delano that Gainey’s new chief of staff will be Jake Pawlak, who has worked for the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Water & Sewer Authority, and was chief of staff to former PA Sen. Matt Smith.
“Jake is one of the brightest people in the business in the Pittsburgh area. I think he is an amazing selection,” says Mikus, who has worked with Pawlak. “He’s smart. He understands which way the political winds are blowing, and he’s competent. That’s exactly what you’re looking for in a chief of staff, and I think it’s an excellent pick.”
Under the City Charter, Wheatley will need a position confirmed by Pittsburgh City Council to become deputy mayor, while Pawlak does not need council approval to be chief of staff.MORE NEWS: Man Shot In Head Inside Wilkinsburg Apartment
In the meantime, Mayor-elect Gainey is expected to name Pawlak to chair his transition team. The mayor is sworn in on Jan 3.