City to vote for mayor, other local officials in Nov. 3 election

By Staff Report

Tuesday, Nov. 3 is local election day.

Students, professors and faculty members registered to vote in Pittsburgh can vote from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for mayor and other public offices.

Polling stations will be set up throughout Oakland, at locations such as Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, Posvar Hall, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the fire station on McKee Place. Voters can find their polling locations on their voter registration cards.

People voting for the first time in Pittsburgh should bring a photo ID with them. Acceptable forms of ID include a Pennsylvania driver’s license or other state-issued ID card, a U.S. passport, a student ID, an employee ID or a U.S. armed forces ID.

Three candidates are running for mayor: current Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and independent challengers Kevin Acklin and Franco “Dok” Harris.

People registered to vote in Pittsburgh can also cast their ballots in the races for state supreme court, state superior court, state commonwealth court, Allegheny County Council and Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

The Pitt News compiled the basic platforms for each candidate.

Kevin Acklin

Age: 33

Education: Graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in government; earned a law degree from Georgetown University


-Expanding the missions of volunteer-based organizations: Acklin would like to see Pittsburgh’s volunteer organizations play a greater role in the community. He currently serves as executive director of Renew Pittsburgh, an organization founded by Ravenstahl’s predecessor, the late Mayor Bob O’Connor. O’Connor’s goal was to revitalize all 88 neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. According to his campaign website, Acklin hopes to improve pools, playgrounds, community centers and business districts in each of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods.

-Passing more anti-discrimination legislation: “I see a city that has a government that runs for the people,” Acklin said. “Pittsburgh has the opportunities to be more inclusive, and I’m the only candidate to stand up for gay rights and anti-discrimination ordinances.”

-Separating from the two-party system: Acklin said he chose to run as an independent candidate because he didn’t want to be confined to the terms “Democrat” and “Republican.”

“I’m a Pittsburgher and wanted to run as a Pittsburgher,” he said. “This is my way of giving back to our city that has given me so much.”

Random fact: Acklin grew up on Parkview Avenue in Oakland, across the street from Hall of Fame quarterback and Pitt alumnus Dan Marino. Acklin recalled having a paper route in Oakland and attending Central Catholic High School. Oakland “was my playground as a kid,” he said.

-Halyse Domencic, Staff Writer

Franco “Dok” Harris

Age: 30

Education: Graduated from Princeton University, where he majored in politics; earned a joint business and law degree from Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business


-Revitalizing small businesses: Harris, who grew up on Pittsburgh’s diverse North Side and currently lives in Shadyside, recently joined his family business Super Bakery Inc., a company that distributes nutritionally enriched baked goods nationwide.

“When you help small businesses, that doesn’t only increase your bottom tax break. It doesn’t only help jobs and help people have more income. It’s transformative for the neighborhood,” he said. “I never wanted to be a big shot lawyer or a criminal lawyer. Law should be about what you love. I love small business.”

-Reforming public safety: Harris seeks to make several changes to the current public safety system. He’d like to require all people who attend Pittsburgh’s police academy to work in Pittsburgh or pay back their tuition. He wants to update officer training and place a larger emphasis on community-oriented policy, according to his campaign website.

-Emphasizing open government: Harris says he hopes to create a more transparent government, in which more government decisions are made before the public.

Random fact: Harris is the son of Steelers legend Franco Harris, who is known for making the Immaculate Reception. Harris insists that he’s different from his dad, who’s helping him campaign.

“Occasionally, people will say, ‘Oh, your dad’s better looking than you. Of course, he was better built than I was. He was a professional football player and I was a mathlete,” Harris said, laughing. “If he didn’t think I was a good candidate, he wouldn’t be out there [campaigning].”

-Elham Khatami, Senior Staff Writer

Luke Ravenstahl

Age: 29

Education: Graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with a degree in business administration before becoming the youngest person to join Pittsburgh City Council and then Pittsburgh’s youngest mayor.


-Reducing debt and gaps in the city pension fund: In an effort to reduce the city’s debt and improve its credit rating, Ravenstahl is considering leasing the city’s parking garages, according to his campaign website. In his 2010 budget, he proposed a more than $100 per year tax on college students and a 0.1 percent tax on hospital bills.

-Promoting a city-county merger: Ravenstahl seeks to combine the city and county governments in an effort that he says will save taxpayers’ money. “For the benefit of Pittsburgh’s residents, Mayor Ravenstahl has taken the bold step of endorsing a plan that may eliminate his own job,” his campaign website says.

-Improving public safety and modernizing government: During his time in office, Ravenstahl has spent $9 million to buy new police cars, ambulances and fire trucks. He is working on a neighborhood camera system for crime prevention. He plans to replace lights throughout the city with more energy-efficient LEDs.

Random fact: When inaugurated at age 26, Ravenstahl was the youngest mayor in Pittsburgh’s history — and of any major U.S. city. He grew up in the North Side and was captain of North Catholic High School’s football and baseball teams, as well as president of student council.

-Staff report