Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pittsburgh's Youth Revival

Many of you (and people across the country) think of Pittsburgh as an older, polluted, dying city. While I can certainly understand that perception and it is frequently reinforced by the media (in news, movies, tv, everything), there are several important ways in which this is not true.

As a member of the Millenial generation (post gen-X) and someone who is relatively politically aware, I'm very proud of the fact that Pittsburgh has the youngest Mayor of any major American city. Regardless of anyone's thoughts or ideas on the matter, it is true that Pittsburgh is a very Democratic city. In fact, there hasn't been a Republican Mayor or member of the City Council since the 1920s. Pittsburgh Mayor and eventual Pennsylvania Governor David Lawrence led a Democratic resurgence and eventual dominance as a champion of President Roosevelt's New Deal agenda. This has unfortunately resulted in a pretty organized machine of Democrats 'waiting in line' to become Mayor, leaving little room for new ideas and for younger people getting a seat at the table.

When Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor passed away, 26 year old Council President Luke Ravenstahl succeeded him and won a special election to fill the term. Mayor O'Connor's death was a tragedy for the city, but Mayor Ravenstahl has led a series of initiatives to help re-invigorate the city. He's been a very successful public face for what has previously been thought of as only an older, degenerating city (with great appearances on the late-night circuit and the Sunday shows). He's also been instrumental in bringing free wi-fi to downtown Pittsburgh, steamlining the city-county services (saving $$$), and bringing new economy jobs to the region. We've seen unprecedented growth in the region, redevelopment, and investment downtown. Keep it up, Luke!!

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