On Nov. 3 we have an opportunity to make our voices heard. Even though most of the races were decided in the primaries, this year there are still some key races affecting African-Americans in western Pennsylvania.
At the top of that short list is the mayoral race in Pittsburgh, and Joe Williams for Allegheny County Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
|LUKE RAVENSTAHL and JOE WILLIAMS|
There are several other Blacks running for office but they are unopposed.
There are five slots open for the Court of Common Pleas with seven candidates, which makes it extremely important for us to come out in support of Williams who has been a pillar of the community for a number of years, as well as being named one of the best attorneys in America by the Allegheny County Bar Association. He was a trial lawyer for 24 years. He will be a very strong asset for the Black community if retained as a judge.
The other key race is for mayor of Pittsburgh. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has locked up the Democratic and Republican nominations for that position and in past years he would be unopposed, but this year he has two very solid Independent candidates running against him in Franco “Dok” Harris and Kevin Acklin.
Both Acklin and Harris are very intelligent people who bring a lot to the table. Harris says his major focus would be to bring small business back to the community and to increase police presence in our community. Acklin, having been raised in a single parent home and having lived in urban Pittsburgh, has some very solid ideas as to how to bring more business to the city, curtail the violence and improve the school system. Even though both men have good ideas, they haven’t had to back up any of their statements because they haven’t held public office. We would like to see these young men hold an elected office at a lower level before trusting them with the big job of mayor of Pittsburgh.
Even though Ravenstahl has his faults, such as the blighted deterioration of some neighborhoods, the need for more businesses and jobs in the city, the biggest problem is the rise of violence in the urban communities throughout the city. The one program he proposed that was supposed to curtail this problem so far is up in the air.
His strengths, however, outweigh his weaknesses. Many of his accomplishments have been overlooked by most. His appointments of Blacks to key decision-making positions stands out—Police Chief Nate Harper; Fire Chief Darryl Jones; Ed Gainey, coordinator of Economic Development; Phil Petite, Equal Opportunity Review Commission manager; Duane Ashley, director of City Parks; A. Fulton Meachem, executive director of Public Housing; Sabrina Saunders, Pittsburgh manager of Youth Policy, and Tamiko Stanley, assistant director/EEO office.
These are positions of power, not symbols, with much more power than those of the cabinet, even though we would like to see more Blacks in cabinet positions as well.
Other positives are his support of the Pittsburgh Promise, which is set up to keep students in the public schools and bring more residents into the city. And anyone traveling through Downtown cannot help but see all the construction of apartment and office buildings as well as those of retail. Downtown is no longer the isolated place it once was.
No, he’s not perfect, but he’s the best candidate running for mayor with a measurable track record.
Other candidates we endorse are Joan Orie Melvin for Pennsylvania Justice of the Supreme Court, Anne E. Lazarus for Judge of the Superior Court, and for Judicial Retention Kim Clark for Allegheny County Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.