PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On Monday, Ed Gainey will become the first African-American to be sworn in as mayor of the city of Pittsburgh.
It also marks the end of the administration of Mayor Bill Peduto, who leaves after eight years in office. Mayor Peduto looked back at his time with KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan.READ MORE: Man Allegedly Drunkenly Breaks Into Bethel Park Apartment
The mayor reflected on his accomplishments and his disappointments, the reasons for his defeat, and the hopes for his city in the future.
It’s with a mixture of sadness and pride that Mayor Peduto packs up all of the artifacts of his 27 years in city government — as a staffer, councilman and two terms as mayor.
“There’s a mini-museum here of the changes in a city that was literally dying,” Peduto said.
Peduto believes his administration put Pittsburgh’s transformation from a smoky industrial center to a modern metropolis over the top.
He said he brought billions of dollars in development and investment, which helped shore up finances, modernized city government and changed its image around the world.
“We’ve built a city built upon innovation, where we’re back on the global stage where people recognize the city for being a city of innovation and forward-thinking,” Peduto said.
Along the way he touts paving more streets, fixing more playgrounds, replacing lead water lines and making the city pension fund solvent without raising taxes.
But Mayor Peduto said he’s disappointed that he couldn’t squeeze any money out of the big, non-profit universities and hospital systems, though he said he has the framework to do that.
“It’s there on the table for the Gainey administration to implement it. … I would have liked the opportunity to implement it,” Peduto said.
Peduto rode on a wave of popularity that easily brought him a second term. It crested in the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy, crediting him with bringing a grieving city together.READ MORE: More Than 150 Firefighters Needed To Battle Flames At Bedford Valley Petroleum
But then came COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests when Mayor Peduto seemed to please no one — not the protesters who camped outside of his house, nor the law enforcement supporters who objected to him allowing daily marches without permits.
Sheehan: You were caught in the middle?
Peduto: I was caught in the middle and doing what was necessary, allowing people to have a voice to be heard and doing what a mayor needs to do keeping the general population safe.
Sheehan: Do you believe this cost you your office?
Peduto: I do.
Sheehan: How do you feel about that ?
Peduto: Perfectly willing to live with it. … It was a moment of time that got caught up in a wave. And I view where politics is right now being pulled in both directions by extremist viewpoints.
Once a leader among progressive mayors in America, he was defeated by a candidate running to his left and gently warns the incoming administration to represent all.
“I can’t speak to the next administration,” Peduto said. “I can only hope that what they do is based on what is best for Pittsburgh and not based upon any activist type of philosophy.
Meaning, he said, the city must continue to grow in order to survive and thrive.
“What my hope is for Pittsburgh is that we continue down this road of success that we’ve seen over the past decade,” Peduto said. “That Pittsburgh is a city that people are willing to invest in, and we don’t get caught up in this NIMBYism where all growth is bad and we don’t want anything else to happen in the neighborhood and that any and all developers are evil.”
Peduto said from here on, he’ll keep his opinions to himself and offer advice only when asked.MORE NEWS: President Biden Set To Discuss Infrastructure During Pittsburgh Visit
But that advice will come at a cost. After nearly three decades in city government, he’s going into the private sector as a paid consultant. It’s work he said he’ll enjoy without having to worry about potholes.