The Race for Mayor: Get regional, or die The city generates $6.6 billion in earnings for suburban workers who commute into the city. While the city's population has been shrinking, these earnings still account for more than one-third of all commuter earnings in Allegheny County. It is time, now or never, to not only think like a region, but to act like a region.
There is an iron curtin around the city on many different levels. I hate the one that keeps the school sports teams in an isolated league and not within the W.P.I.A.L. But, there are others.
Generally, there is a huge gulf -- not golf (but that's a different difference) -- between city resident as a voter and the suburban voter. People in the burbs need to care more about politics in the city. People in general need to care more about politics as well.
However, in this primary, I've been most impressed by Mike Lamb's ability to galvanize a group of supporters to help him in the city in the mayor's race. When I encounter a Lamb for Mayor supporter, I always ask, "Where do you live?"
Lamb friends turned out at the Dem Party Endorsment Sunday at the IBEW Hall, at the St. Pat's Parade, at some of the debates / forum, and elsewhere.
They live in Plum, Mt. Lebo, Dormont, Ross, etc. Some are from the city too. Generally, four out of five Lamb supporters are from the suburban sectors. That number is my guess. I've not done REAL data collection. More as a hunch. But, the upside is that I have been most impressed by the LAMB suburban outreach.
Lamb's county wide play, I guess, comes from his row office past. Those campaigns have been wider than the city's borders. Perhaps Lamb's reach comes from his father's past political career that stretched into the burbs too. Plus, Lamb has Catholic school buddies and law connections too.
Perhaps some of the reach generates from the people that cruise GRANDVIEW Ave, Lamb's street in Mt. Washington. Who knows? How do you explain it?
Years ago I pondered a "way-out-there formula" that would have changed the city's charter. It called for some type of representation from those who don't live in the city. Many who don't live and vote in the city pay dearly to the city. Fines, fees (parking tax, tickets, property taxes, wage taxes), RAD tax and other streams come to the city, despite what Mayor Murphy harps about. Taxation without representation is wrong. But we got it throughout the city.
I don't think it is wise to give everyone in the county a vote in the city's mayor election. But, it might make some sense to allow the suburban folks to have a vote for an at-large member of city council.
How about if a suburban interest candidate would be elected county wide to sit on city council?
Too bad the County Controller didn't do more to monitor the city's condition over the years. The County Controller could help a great deal in these efforts in the city. Too bad the city's own controller was not forceful and effective enough to keep the city away from its crisis state.
Nonetheless, there are many ways those in the burbs can help with the city's political landscape. And, those efforts are generally new efforts, not done already.
One of the big reasons I'm running for the PA Senate, 42nd district, is to answer the call to take down the iron curtin that splits the city and the burbs. The state senate race has given me opportunities to bridge connections with those in Green Tree, Carnegie, and Castle Shannon -- among other venues.