Fourth time’s a charm for new Pittsburgh City Councilman Anthony Coghill
Anthony Coghill lost three elections before taking a seat on Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday, and the man who beat him the first time administered his oath of office.
Council swore in Coghill and two returning members and elected Councilman Bruce Kraus for a third two-year term as council president. Councilman Dan Gilman of Squirrel Hill resigned his District 8 seat to take a job as Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief of staff.
But the day belonged to Coghill, 50, of Beechview.
“Some people take the easy path. Some take the hard path,” Coghill said. “Mine was the hard path, 16 years in the making. I want you to know how much I appreciate it … and how honored I am to be here.”
Coghill praised former Councilman Jim Motznik of Brookline, now a district judge. Motznik, who swore in Coghill, beat him in 2001 during a special election for the District 4 council seat.
“Many, many years ago, we were political opponents,” Motznik said. “Today we are close, very good friends. Myself, my family and the residents of District 4 are oh so proud of your efforts. We’re happy that you finally made it here.”
Council members met for more than five hours Tuesday evening before they agreed on a nomination for council presidency. They elected Kraus, 63, of the South Side to a third term in a 7-1 vote.
“We wanted to get to the point where we were coming out as a unified council as much as possible,” said Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith of Westwood, who hosted the meeting with Councilman Deb Gross of Highland Park.
The president, first in line to succeed the mayor, schedules meetings, sets meeting agendas and assigns members to head council committees.
“You have my deepest, deepest respect and commitment to lead with integrity, with inclusivity and with an open mind and an open heart,” Kraus said. “I make that commitment to you in public so that everybody knows where I stand and what I stand for.”
Councilwoman Darlene Harris of Spring Hill, who has battled almost continuously with Kraus over the past two years, was the lone “no” vote.
“It’s called principle,” Harris said when asked about the reason for her vote.
Smith, 59, of Westwood and Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, 41, of the Hill District, both of whom were re-elected in November, also were sworn in.
“It’s like swearing in your grandma,” said District Judge Randy Martini, who swore in Kail-Smith. “That’s what Theresa is. She’s a grandma to everybody.”
Gilman’s seat will remain empty until a special election can be held. A date for that has not been set.
Council members are paid an annual salary of $66,371.