Austin Davis named chair of Allegheny County House Democratic Delegation

by Rob Taylor Jr.
Courier Staff Writer

When it was announced Nov. 13 that state Rep. Austin Davis was elected chairman of the Allegheny County House Democratic Delegation for the 2021-22 legislative session, he became the first African American to ever hold the title.

That’s all fine and dandy, but Rep. Davis said that “being first doesn’t mean anything unless there’s a second.”

Representative Davis, at just 31 years old, was elected by his fellow Democratic House representatives seated inside Allegheny County. There are 15 members total.

He had served as secretary of the delegation leadership last term, “and I think I worked really closely with all of our members to help them achieve their priorities, not just for their districts but what they wanted to achieve in the Capitol as well,” Rep. Davis told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview, Nov. 27.

“I think they just naturally saw me as a leader and somebody that can pull people together in a non-confrontational way, and so they decided to elevate me to a position of greater responsibility.”

Representative Davis will become the face of all the Democratic state representatives in Allegheny County with external stakeholders such as Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and the business community.

Representative Davis said in a release that “while I’m excited for this new opportunity, the priorities and key issues that matter most to Mon Valley residents will always be in the forefront, and I remain committed to advancing legislation that benefits residents in the 35th Legislative District.”

Come January 2021, Rep. Davis will begin his third-term. He originally won the 35th District seat in a special election in 2018, making him the first African American to hold a state House District seat in Western Pennsylvania beyond the Pittsburgh city limits.

Summer Lee soon followed, as she became the state representative for the 34th District. There are now four Black state representatives in the region, as Reps. Lee and Davis joined longtime representatives Ed Gainey and Jake Wheatley, who both have offices within Pittsburgh.

As the new year approaches, Rep. Davis said the biggest priority for Allegheny County’s House Democrats is to help their constituents during this coronavirus pandemic. Representative Davis said he hopes to introduce new legislation in the coming months.

“I want to do a good job to make sure that there are other African Americans that can follow in my footsteps,” Rep. Davis told the Courier about his added title as Allegheny County House Democratic Delegation chair. “I’ve blazed a lot of trails in my short career…I hope it’s just a testament that people can achieve their goals when they set their mind to it and work hard.”

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