Pitt students react to Nov. 2 municipal election


Promiti Debi | Senior Staff Illustrator

Students slowly made their way in and out of polling stations to vote in Pittsburgh’s historic municipal election on Tuesday.

By Katie Cassidy, Quentin Tan, and Millicent Watt

Students slowly made their way in and out of polling stations to vote in Pittsburgh’s historic municipal election on Tuesday, in which voters selected Ed Gainey to become the first Black mayor in Pittsburgh’s history.

Polls opened between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., where voters could vote for mayor, City Council, County Council and judicial positions. Polling locations on and around campus included the William Pitt Union, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum and Pittsburgh Fire Bureau Station 14 on McKee Place.

Ed Gainey and Tony Moreno were at the top of the ballot running for mayor. Gainey led the race by more than 28,000 votes as of Wednesday at 1 a.m. and had about 70% of the vote compared to Moreno’s 29%.

Joe Galante, a senior computer science major, said he voted for Gainey due to his police reform initiatives.

“Gainey wants to break the mentality of ‘us vs. them’ — between the people and the police and wants to reestablish a sense of trust in those who protect and serve,” Galante said. “Specifically, his plans to overhaul police training to focus on de-escalation resonated with me, especially after the murder of George Floyd.”

Jack Davis, a junior finance major, said he cast his vote for Moreno because he disagreed with Mayor Bill Peduto’s requirement that all City employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 22. Moreno said he would hire back any employees who were terminated because of the mandate. 

“I do not like the vaccine mandate and private spending. I think there needs to be more choice upon some of these issues,” Davis said.

Mark Roberts, a sophomore engineering major, said he voted in the municipal election because he does not want to “waste” his right to vote, especially in an election that will personally affect him as a Pittsburgh resident.

“These elections will arguably affect me more than the presidential election, with the effect lasting just as long,” Roberts said. “I help put people in the office who I want to see there.”

Roberts also said he chose candidates based on their character, rather than party affiliation.

“I voted for certain people because they either have supported policies I support, or they have ideas for my local area that I am personally in favor of,” Roberts said.

Jacob Luterman, a first-year economics and statistics major, said he votes for members from his political party “most of the time.”

Graham Demkovitz, a senior theater arts major, also went with a straight-ticket method of voting by selecting all candidates from the Democratic party on the ticket.

“I align with their views more than any other party,” Demkovitz said. “I did look at the other contenders, and they just didn’t really fall in line with my beliefs.”

Students who are Pittsburgh locals understood the importance of voting in this election. Amelia Rosenstock, a junior psychology and sociology major, has lived in the City all her life and said municipal elections are just as important as presidential elections, if not more so. Rosenstock also noted the significance of the mayoral election, with the possibility of having the first Black mayor for Pittsburgh.

“The fact that we could have the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh is really important, and I also think he is better than the Republican option and would make good changes,” Rosenstock said. “Even though it’s a non-presidential election, there can still be big changes that happen.”