CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 9 IS UP FOR GRABS BETWEEN KHADIJAH HARRIS AND KHARI MOSLEY.
One of the “Special K’s,” Khari or Khadijah, will be Pittsburgh’s next District 9 representative in City Council.
But which “K” will it be?
Khari Mosley, who has rubbed elbows with those in Pittsburgh’s political landscape for decades but has never held a public elected office seat, or Khadijah Harris, who also has never held a public elected office seat, but is known throughout Homewood and beyond for her community and social advocacy?
Mosley and Harris are both Democrats. The state’s Primary Election is May 16. The winner of the Primary will easily win the General Election in November and be enshrined as a new member of City Council come early 2024.
Early in the year, Mosley had all the momentum. He announced his candidacy on Jan. 5, flanked by a wealth of supporters, and Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor, Ed Gainey, has already come out and proclaimed that Pittsburgh’s next District 9 City Council representative would be Mosley. Mayor Gainey spoke those words even before it became publicly known and confirmed that longtime District 9 representative, Rev. Ricky Burgess, who is Black, would not be running for re-election.
“I am running to restore faith in the idea that government can get the people’s decision done, improve the quality of life in every neighborhood, and inspire our citizens to believe that Pittsburgh’s best days are yet to come. If we dare to be bold, think big and rise up to meet this moment, there is so much that we can do,” Mosley said during his speech on Jan. 5.
Mosley is the political director for 1 Hood Media, and has worked on campaigns for former state House representative Jake Wheatley (who is now Mayor Gainey’s Chief of Staff), and former Mayor Bill Peduto. Mosley has served as the Democratic Committee chair for the 22nd Ward, Pa. state director for BlueGreen Alliance, and director of Green Economy Initiatives for GTECH Strategies.
Mosley, known for his love for Hip-Hop as Hip-Hop, in 2023, celebrates 50 years in existence, said running for City Council was a “life-changing decision.” But he said that in all the years he’s been a part of or following Pittsburgh politics, “the people are at the center of the political agenda.”
Mosley added: “The overriding question in my mind was, what are we willing to do to meet this moment? Are we content with what we’ve done so far? Have we done enough already? Is our work done? Or are we ready to continue to do the work we’ve started…a focus on holistic public safety, resilient infrastructure, affordable housing, fair wages, climate protection, food security, equity, inclusion and other key policy areas. This is a question I had to ask myself…I realized that part of finishing the work we started was me to step up and do my part.”
Khadijah Harris wants to do her part in bettering the life and times of those in the East End, many of its neighborhoods District 9 encompasses. The Homewood resident runs her own financial services business, and she’s been in the corporate fundraising/community development world for more than 25 years. She formerly was a senior executive at the nonprofit Community Health Services, now based in Oakland.
Harris earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Cheyney University and an Associate of Science Degree in Child Development from the University of Pittsburgh.
The next District 9 representative on Council will be under a microscope. City Council members across the city have varying issues they have to deal with in their respective districts, but no other district has the unique mix of perceived gentrification in neighborhoods like East Liberty, crime problems, a diversity of ethnicities, a lack of affordable housing, all with some neighborhoods being classified as low-income.
District 9 includes popular Black areas like Homewood, East Hills, Larimer and Lincoln-Lemington, along with East Liberty, North Point Breeze, Friendship and Garfield.
Reverend Burgess had his share of supporters and detractors over his 15-plus years as the District 9 Councilman. But it’s also safe to say that Mosley or Harris, whomever wins the Primary, will have supporters and detractors, as well. At the end of the day, though, it’s about doing the best job you can for your constituents.
In an interview with WESA-FM (90.5), Harris said she was the right person for the City Council job because she’s a “leader that understands the needs of the communities and to be the voice of the people. I will never put profit over people. I believe that I am the right person because I grew up in the 9th district and I understand the needs of the communities.”
WESA asked the same question to Mosley. Mosley replied: “District 9 needs a City Council committed to enacting policy that expands affordable housing, empowers neighborhoods in the planning process, and invests in locally grown small businesses. Equitable and sustainable neighborhood development can improve our overall quality of life and rebuild the communities most in need. We can be the model for cities across this country with an equitable approach that preserves the profound and unique character of neighborhoods and does so without succumbing to gentrification and the erasure of the characteristics that define us.”