Jewish Pittsburgh had much to be proud of Monday when the city’s new government was sworn in.
Bill Peduto, a longtime city councilman from the East End, where many Jewish residents live, took the oath of office as the 60th mayor of Pittsburgh during a ceremony at Heinz Hall.
Hours earlier, in City Council chambers, Dan Gilman, Peduto’s chief of staff while he was councilman, was sworn in as the new mayor’s successor on the legislative body. He joins Corey O’Connor representing the East End. Council President Bruce Kraus assigned Gilman to oversee intergovernmental affairs.
The Jewish clergy was well represented with Rabbi Ron Symons of Temple Sinai delivering the invocation at the city council swearing-in ceremony while Rabbi Sharyn Henry of Rodef Shalom Congregation was one of three clergy making the benediction at the mayoral inauguration.
If that weren’t enough, Peduto, in his inaugural speech, paid tribute to the city’s only Jewish mayor, describing Sophie Masloff as “the steady, sensible and wise woman who needs no last name … because we all know, and will always love her, as simply, ‘Sophie.’ ”
It was a good day all around.
But it will end all too soon.
The honeymoon will be over and Pittsburgh’s new government will then get down to serious issues.
Peduto, who succeeds a corruption-tainted administration, ran for mayor as a reform candidate, but, as he noted in his speech, that’s not enough.
“I will not make the mistake of assuming that my ascension to the office of mayor is, in itself, political reform,” he said. “It is my job to turn this moment into an opportunity for reform.”
He cited the 1,100-page report from his citizens advisory committee, the recommendations on which (many of them anyway) he pledged to build an agenda for his administration.
Peduto plans to:
• Continue an already-begun policy of merit hiring;
• Follow a fiscal policy of operating the city within its means; and
• Develop a “critical mass” city that enables its economy to “expand and thrive,” sustaining its reforms beyond this one administration.
These are some promising notes the new mayor struck in his speech, but there are still others.
As Jews, we want a city that believes in social justice; where all residents, regardless of race, have fair job opportunities, good health care, safe neighborhoods — a future.
We want a green city where public and private sectors partner to recycle and reduce their carbon footprints as much as possible.
Lastly, we want a city that is free of food deserts — a city where no one goes hungry.
We’re sure you have ideas of your own, too.
We believe Mayor Peduto wants these things as much as we do, and we expect him to strike these notes in the months and years ahead.
Jewish Pittsburgh did have much to be proud of Monday, but the job has just begun. As one member of our community said on Facebook while congratulating our new mayor, “let’s kick this city into overdrive.”