Ed Gainey defeats incumbent president to become Pittsburgh’s first-ever black mayor | News | Pittsburgh

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CP photo: Jared Wickerham

Ed Gainey celebrates his victory during his Election Eve night in the North Side of Pittsburgh on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

Pennsylvania State Representative Ed Gainey (D-Lincoln-Lemington) likely won the Democratic primary in Pittsburgh, while assuring that he will be the next majority Democratic city mayor. Gainey will become the first black mayor in the history of Pittsburgh.

Outgoing Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D-Point Breeze) announced on Twitter that he called on Gainey to concede late on the evening of May 18. With over 98% of in-person ballots counted and virtually all mail-in ballots, Gainey won over 46% of the vote in a four-man race. Peduto currently has about 39%, former Pittsburgh Police Officer Tony Moreno has 13% and Michael Thompson, a math teacher and taxi driver, has about 1%.

Gainey celebrated his victory with friends and supporters on an election vigil night in the North Side of Pittsburgh.

“I am honored, humbled and proud that the people of Pittsburgh have trusted me by making me their Democratic candidate for mayor,” Gainey said in a statement. “This election has made history, and I am ready to work on building a Pittsburgh where everyone can belong, contribute and succeed.

Gainey has been the State Representative for the 24th Pennsylvania House District since 2013 and has become a well-known progressive ally on issues such as criminal justice reform, marijuana policy, labor, public transportation and the Black Lives Matter movement.

He grew up in East Liberty and graduated from Peabody High School, now called Obama Academy. Gainey holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morgan State University, a historic black university in Baltimore. He and his wife Michelle (Coburn) Gainey live in Lincoln Lemington and have three children.

Gainey’s campaign focused on highlighting the racial and economic inequalities that plagued Pittsburgh and promoting solutions to combat them. His biggest campaign promise was to revive legal action against the charity statues of large nonprofits like UPMC that do not pay property taxes through state law. He also wants more focus on affordable housing measures, including making the Pittsburgh Land Bank functional, and wants a city-wide inclusive zoning policy, and criticized Peduto for not taking these issues seriously enough.

Gainey’s victory also comes up against considerable odds. As of September 2020, it didn’t look like Peduto would attract a legitimate challenger. And then in January 2021, Gainey announced with some early support from state union SEIU Healthcare and some progressive local elected officials, but he had a significant funding gap compared to Peduto.

Gainey’s victory is also the first time in modern history that an outgoing mayor of Pittsburgh has been defeated.

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