Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess not running for re-election


If anyone knows how to make something known, it’s Pittsburgh City Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess.

Unabashed about calling press conferences, or speaking at the pulpit, the 15-year councilman never shies away from the microphone.

However, as the New Pittsburgh Courier has confirmed that Rev. Burgess will not be running for re-election for City Council District 9 after all these years, the reverend, surprisingly, is quiet as a church mouse as to the reasons why.

Data from the Allegheny County Elections Office shows two candidates on the ballot for District 9, which includes East Liberty, North Point Breeze, Homewood, Larimer, Garfield, Friendship, East Hills and Lincoln-Lemington, and neither candidate spells “Burgess.” Instead, the candidates on the ballot for the May 16 Primary Election are Khari Mosley and Khadijah Harris.

The Courier attempted to interview Rev. Burgess for this story, but calls were not returned.

As with most politicians, Rev. Burgess has his share of supporters and detractors. However, facts are facts, and for the past 15 years, and with just as many challengers, Rev. Burgess has held onto his City Council position. You may recall back in 2007, when Rev. Burgess, the pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Homewood and a tenured CCAC professor, was the leading candidate for District 9, replacing Twanda Carlisle. He defeated challengers such as William Anderson, Ora Lee Carroll, Judith Ginyard, and Randall Taylor.

“I believe that we deserve a future filled with hope, hope with better jobs in our community, safer streets for our neighborhoods and a brighter future for our children,” Rev. Burgess said during a “Meet the Candidates” event in Pittsburgh in 2007 prior to the May Primary. “Many people tell me that’s not possible for some communities in District 9, that there’s no hope. I tell them they’re wrong. Every person in District 9 counts.”

Reverend Burgess officially took office in January 2008, and withstood challenges for his seat in 2011, 2015, and 2019. But this year, Rev. Burgess is leaving the seat for someone else.


In the past year or so, Rev. Burgess, politically, is best known for pushing the legislation to prevent Pittsburgh Police officers from pulling over drivers for minor traffic infractions. Reverend Burgess pointed to chilling data that showed just how disproportionate the numbers were when it came to Blacks being pulled over by police in Pittsburgh. In 2020, there were 4,650 Black motorists pulled over, 137 more than White motorists  (4,513). Reverend Burgess said the numbers were staggering, considering Pittsburgh has a Black population that’s three times less than its White population.

“African Americans are three times more likely to be stopped by police than other brothers and sisters, and that creates a chilling effect in the African American community,” Rev. Burgess said to KDKA-TV in a November 2021 interview.

The ban on those traffic stops has since been reversed by acting city police chief Thomas Stangrecki, definitely not to the delight of Rev. Burgess and the mayor, Ed Gainey.

Reverend Burgess is also synonymous with the term “affordable housing.” He’s voiced in numerous interviews of his ability to secure affordable housing for many Black residents in his district. The HELP Initiative, introduced by the councilman in 2015, sought to combine resources and thus attack the crime and affordable housing problem in Homewood, East Hills, Lincoln-Lemington and Larimer.

In an interview with the online publication The Incline in 2017, Rev. Burgess said that the two biggest issues in District 9 were economic development and public safety, and he stressed the importance of battling both simultaneously, rather than dealing with one issue and forgetting about the other for a time.

The reverend also mentioned how, when he was contemplating on running for City Council, a deacon told him: “Remember when Homewood Avenue used to be thriving? If you can make it like that again, then run.”

“I want to do things that are transformational, not transaction or treatment,” Rev. Burgess told The Incline. “That’s my litmus test.”

Homewood has since seen the completion of the Susquehanna Homes, 36 new properties along Tioga, Susquehanna and Dumfermline streets, and Panke Way; and the Kelly-Hamilton townhomes development. There is also a Homewood Comprehensive Community Plan in place to revitalize, among other things, the Homewood Avenue business district.

On the issue of public safety, Rev. Burgess has touted his efforts to have more than 30 city security cameras mounted from Garfield to East Hills, along with the Shotspotter technology that pinpoints to police exactly where gunfire is happening. In an interview with WPXI-TV, he called those efforts of his as “short-term” fixes.

“The long-term solution is that this community has to be redeveloped,” Rev. Burgess said. “We have to have new homes and new jobs, new businesses and new opportunities, and without a significant amount of redevelopment in this community, unfortunately, I believe these incidents will occur. As long as there is hopelessness and concentrated poverty, you’re going to see these horrible bad effects.”

When Rev. Burgess won the Democratic nomination for City Council’s District 9 in May 2019, he told the Courier: “I like to think it was my track record. Reducing gun violence, increasing public safety, starting new businesses, building new housing and ultimately having better outcomes for the residents. And we made some structural changes in the office to better address everyday needs. We have someone who answers every call and tries to help. I’ve put a greater emphasis on individual concerns.”

But come 2024, after 15 years, there will be another District 9 councilman that the people will be calling.




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