“The Next Pittsburgh”
Inaugural Address by William Peduto, 60th Mayor of Pittsburgh
Today, I have taken an oath to lead the city we share, the city we love, and the city that has shaped — and continues to honor — essential aspects of the American character: Hard work.
A spirit of personal independence, balanced with a sense of community.
Fifty-nine others have taken the oath ahead of me. Remarkable people have led Pittsburgh and conferred a legacy as eternal as our three rivers and as ever-changing as our skyline:
George Armstrong, known as The Builder.
David Lawrence, the mayor of our first Renaissance.
Richard Caliguiri, who ascended to office amid economic upheaval … and raised a new city upon the framework of the old.
And the steady, sensible and wise woman who needs no last name … because we all know and will always love her, as simply, “Sophie.”
Pittsburgh has grown and changed and grown again from the day a small campfire burned at the confluence of our three rivers and heralded the new boundaries of the American nation. But we did not only inherit this city from our forbears. We are also borrowing it from our children. Whatever we take from this place — be it wealth or success or happiness — we have a moral obligation to return with interest to generations yet unborn.
The things we do in the next few years — the efforts we undertake together, as a city — will determine the fortunes of generations to come. Pittsburgh has given the nation and the world the steel framework on which an entire age was built. Along with steel and industrial might, it has given our nation artists, such as Andy Warhol … and writers such as Gertrude Stein and August Wilson … visionaries such as Herbert Simon and Rachel Carson … historians such as David McCullough … and healers such as Thomas Starzl and Jonas Salk.
Pittsburgh has produced wealth beyond computation, knowledge beyond measure, and vision beyond limits. But what this city has done cannot be the end of our story.
Pittsburgh must also do.
We must live in the present tense with our eyes fixed on tomorrow. Yes, we ought to remember our past, but never at the risk of forgetting our future.
We have gone through some challenging times in the past decade. Events have raised questions about some of our civic institutions, and scandal has caused us to wonder if government can again be a force for true progress,
Let me be clear: The qualities that make a city successful are the same ones that make a city honest. The policies that undermine growth … corruption, self-dealing and disregard for the common good … are the very ones that doom a city to economic failure. Good government isn’t only a question of civic virtue. It is the thing that determines a city’s survival.
I tell you now — there is nothing wrong with the institutions of this city that cannot be repaired by good faith, square dealing and hard work. I will not make the mistake of assuming that my ascension to the office of mayor is, in itself, political reform. It is my job to turn this moment into an opportunity for reform. I understand that my election doesn’t complete the task of setting things right. It only offers us the chance to begin.
So let us begin.
Two weeks ago, I was handed eleven-hundred pages of inspiration. An advisory committee, made up of dozens of ordinary citizens, proved that a spirit of democracy produces extraordinary ideas. In the coming months, I will take many of those ideas and turn them into an agenda for the future. I will do this by placing our tasks into three, broad categories:
Accountability means a government that is open in every way possible. We have begun that process by hiring on merit. We will continue to shape our departments in the same spirit.
Responsibility means facing the facts as they are, especially our financial realities. I take office in a city still recovering from the disastrous effects of spending money it did not have on things it could not afford. As a result, we are under a state recovery plan. I promise you that when the day comes to declare ourselves fully restored … that declaration will be grounded in solid fact, and not wishful thinking.
Sustainability means creating a culture of governance that will last beyond any one administration. It is about creating the “critical mass” that makes a city’s economy expand and thrive, making our city essential to a full life for our citizens, all the while guarding the land, waters and sky we share with the rest of the world.
Like so many others, my family came to Pittsburgh from another land. We share this wonderful city through the filter of many cultures and creeds. From Italy and Ireland, from Mexico City and Mumbai, Pittsburgh has been the destination for millions who have entered through the golden door of American freedom.
My own family has been in America for three generations. Some are with me here on the stage. Others — especially my father and my brother — are here in my heart. I know they would be proud today. And today I can hear their voices asking me to make them prouder still. In keeping faith with you, I am also keeping faith with my family … with who I am … and with the man I want to be.
In the centuries behind us, there have been many Pittsburghs:
There was the frontier town, once the westernmost point in a new American nation. Our grandparents and great-grandparents knew the Pittsburgh of the gilded age — a city teeming with immigrants, and filled with the din of factories.
We had the Pittsburgh of the two Renaissances, when we tore down the old — sometimes too much of it — and added the glitter and lights of a new century that has since passed and now calls for a successor.
It is now our moment, our opportunity — indeed, it is our duty — to create the next Pittsburgh: A city that gleams not only with the lights and glass of our towers, but one that also glows with the hope of revived neighborhoods, that thrives in a renewed sense of possibility for every child born here.
A city that is more than a place to be from, but rather, a place where lives can be lived to their fullest measure.
A city where our children graduate school and stay, perfect our next economy, raise their families, and hand the next generation a greater city still.
That is the city we deserve. This is the city we can be. Together, we can build The Next Pittsburgh. I can’t wait to get started.
It is cold out there today. Let’s warm our city with the fires of reform and the sunlight of a new era.
(As printed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)