Pittsburgh City Council race focuses on revitalization
Anthony Coghill wants to revitalize Pittsburgh’s South Hills neighborhoods. Cletus Cibrone Abate plans to follow the money.
The two candidates for Pittsburgh City Council’s District 4 office — Coghill, a Beechview Democrat, and Abate, a Republican from Overbrook — will face off during the Nov. 7 election in this year’s only contested City Council race.
The district includes Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick, Overbrook and part of Mt. Washington.
It will be Coghill’s fourth run for the council seat now held by Democrat Natalia Rudiak of Carrick, who’s quitting to pursue other opportunities. If elected, the roofing contractor said he would focus on enhancing basic needs — “the things we all pay taxes for” — such as paving bumpy streets, cleaning up litter and ramping up ranks of police and firefighters.
This is Abate’s first run for public office, but she’s worked as a volunteer on political campaigns, including President Trump’s. Describing herself as an unemployed community activist, she said she would investigate how Pittsburgh spends tax dollars and “be a voice for the voiceless.”
Council members serve four years and will be paid $66,371 in 2018.
Coghill, 50, concentrated on five things during his campaign, including revitalizing neighborhood business districts; attacking the city’s opioid problem; improving conditions for police, firefighters and paramedics; upgrading city streets, parks and buildings; and supporting city schools.
He said his main thrust since winning the primary election has been the Beechview business district and building a new Department of Public Works division headquarters in the South Hills.
Pittsburgh has condemned the aging maintenance facility in Knoxville because of structural deterioration and moved its employees to neighboring districts. City officials said the move will not impact public works services in southern neighborhoods, but residents fear otherwise.
Coghill said he would support building a new facility in the council district.
He also hopes to spur development on Broadway Avenue, Beechview’s main street. Noting that the neighborhood has access to the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s light rail and is close to Downtown, Coghill said he can’t understand why Beechview has trouble attracting businesses and new residents.
He said he is working with state Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, and developer Daniel Berkowitz, who owns commercial and residential properties on Broadway and in the immediate vicinity, on plans for improvements.
“This neighborhood is going to be a shining star for us in four years, I hope by the end of my term,” he said.
Coghill said he’s also working on plans with District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. for surveillance cameras along Brownsville Road where crime is occurring.
“If you come into Carrick and you commit a crime, there’s nothing better,” he said. “I like it as a deterrent and to apprehend people who do break the law.”
Abate, 48, thinks Pittsburgh government is liberal to the point of being unfair. If you’re a conservative, she said, “you’re not included in the club.” She hopes to balance that out if elected.
“If you’re a good leader, you represent all of your constituents,” Abate said. “You can’t shut down the pro-life movement. You can’t shove your liberal ideals on everyone.”
She wants to improve city senior and recreation centers and offer productive programs for old and young alike. Recreation centers should be open 24 hours to give kids an alternative to drugs, she said.
Abate also favors an increase in public safety ranks and said first responders should have equipment. Like Coghill, she said basic city services are lacking in southern neighborhoods.
She said public works employees who aren’t driving snowplows in winter should shovel sidewalks.
“I got in the race to make a difference for my community,” Abate said. “There’s a failure of taking care of regular community services that we’re paying people to do.”