I’ve wanted to post about the upcoming elections on November 5th, but rather than just talk about the local election and candidates, I want to put things into a bigger context. This post will be a three part series. Or more, if I’m honest with myself.

Do local elections matter?
My friend, Adrian Shanker posted this to Facebook the other day.┬áHis point was to get people to thank the elected official, and I’d encourage you to do the same. Officials rarely hear from anyone when they have done something good especially when it is something progressive, but they always are barraged with emails and calls by far right conservatives who are against it.

My point, sharing it here, is that the consequences of how we vote locally are visible in this example. This demonstrates why getting progressives turned out to vote in local elections is so crucial. Creating policy which promotes fairness and equality starts locally and sets the stage for such policies to be successful in larger arenas like State and Federal levels. Local officials are more accessible, and are less likely to view progressive issues as little more than political hot potatoes because how communities function is their primary concern. That isn’t meant as a slam against State or Federal elected officials, but they often can be removed far enough from the community that for them, issues can be viewed as more hypothetical and less about real people and their lives.

Why I’m supporting Deb Gross

I am not employed by anyone’s campaign although full disclosure: I will be volunteering on Election Day for Deb Gross. My decision to volunteer followed my decision to support Deb as my decision to cast my vote for her. Deb is running for the open District 7 seat vacated by Patrick Dowd earlier this year.

Deb has been very accessible to constituents, being hosted in house parties all across the district. Perhaps other candidates have been as well, but I don’t think so, or I believe I would have heard about them. I used these gatherings as a way to get to know Deb and ask her questions. These are the things that are important to me about the next city council member:

  • That the person is accessible to the constituents and willing to have an ongoing working relationship with me as a constituent.
  • That the person care deeply about what will benefit the district as well as the city overall.
  • That the person’s efforts always place the needs of the whole before the profits or needs of the few.
  • That the person be willing to break the City Council out of the old patterns of gridlock and grandstanding and work as a collective of representatives who place all the residents above other agendas.
  • That the person be focused on moving the city thoughtfully forward.

Deb Gross meets all of these in my opinion better than any of the other candidates.

But the quality within Deb Gross I value the most is that she seems to have a keen awareness of how the changing city means changing neighborhoods where the needs of the “old Pittsburgh” and the “new Pittsburgh” need to harmoniously mesh. In some neighborhoods that has happened better than in others. For example, in South Side tensions remain high between the old Pittsburgh residents, and the new Pittsburgh, which is the growing and out of control nightlife there. In District 7, we have Lawrenceville, East Liberty, Highland Park, and Bloomfield where the merging of the old and new must be a focus of attention so that everyone benefits in the end. I believe Deb can do this.

Equally important to me is the fact that Deb is more connected to Bill Peduto and less connected to the old Pittsburgh Democratic machinery. Any candidate connected more closely to Ravenstahl, Ferlo, or a number of others is in my opinion more connected to the past instead of the future. And to be. Honest, I’m voting for Deb, not because she is a woman per se, but because she helps us establish greater diversity on Council and therefor in Local government overall. No other candidate represents a break from the failed Democrat machinery like Deb does. Changing times call for changing coalitions and processes. Lastly, Deb reminds me of the qualities of Dowd that I liked the most, but with a more balanced presentation. I believe Deb will be willing to ask the tough questions and speak up while remaining engaged in consensus building.

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