A primary Democrat turned general election Republican candidate is State Rep. Ed Gainey’s biggest challenger for Pittsburgh.
Retired police officer Tony Moreno came in third place behind Gainey and incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto in May’s primary election, but switched his registration to Republican after receiving enough write-in votes to run as a mayoral candidate for the party. Unlike his two opponents in the primary, who ran partially on platforms of reining in some aspects of the police department, Moreno wants an expansion of public safety measures in the city. Also central to Moreno’s platform are new investments in public works and infrastructure, as well as increased collaboration and feedback from city residents on policies.
Though Moreno’s campaign doesn’t focus on the tech industry as much as Gainey’s, there will be pressure on him to continue the momentum of economic success started under the Peduto administration, should he win. As tech continues to take a more prominent role in the local economy, ensuring equitable job and business growth will need to be a priority.
In a survey, Technical.ly asked Moreno for his stance on some of the biggest challenges to that growth, and what his plans are to address them, should he take office in January. We previously shared this same survey completed by Gainey in July.
Moreno responded yes to the first seven questions, as well as #10, but did not provide comments elaborating on most of these answers. He did not respond yes or no to questions #8 and #9, but provided comments as answers.
Question #1: I support launching city government programs to expand access to technology and internet across the City of Pittsburgh, including to the nearly 30,000 households who lack an internet connection (as of 2015).
Question #2: I believe Pittsburgh’s economic growth requires modern workforce development strategies. This includes increased city government-sponsored work training opportunities in the tech industry, with a focus on groups that are currently underrepresented in that workforce.
Question #3: I support growing a diverse tech workforce. This includes efforts to improve on statistics outlined by the Gender Equity Commission’s 2019 report, such as motivating local tech companies to enact more equitable hiring practices, as well as focused retention efforts.
Question #4: I believe modern economic development includes working with stakeholders across government, business, anchor institutions, and communities to create spaces that spur technology and entrepreneurial ventures. This includes efforts to cluster large employers and researchers with new companies, and repurposing former industrial spaces for use by technology and entrepreneurial ventures growing in Pittsburgh. This means partnering with both developers and community members in ongoing and future projects, like those at Hazelwood Green and Rockwell Park.
Question #5: I support the need for supplementary educational opportunities in STEM. This includes incorporating more digital literacy and technical skills education into Pittsburgh Public Schools curricula, and fostering more connections between local tech employers and high school students.
Question #6: I support programs that aim to attract, retain and grow Pittsburgh entrepreneurs and its startup community, like local accelerators and incubators, as well as other related startup and funding initiatives.
Question #7: I support the role private investment, like venture capital, must play in growing local communities through social entrepreneurship and other civic-minded business growth.
Question #8: I believe city government is a driver of citywide innovation to combat the effects of climate change. This includes the continuation and growth of city-sponsored initiatives to motivate local companies to meet the 2030 goals established by the Department of City Planning, including the widespread adoption of renewable energy and encouragement of fossil fuel divestment.
- Comments: I disagree with many of the city planning department concepts and what they are proposing. This is particularly true of their plans to disincentivize the motor vehicle driver from coming into the city and also their lack of planning for more parking on the South Side such as a parking garage.
Question #9: I believe open data is a dominant trend in transparent, responsive and effective government, and support maintaining, upgrading and improving the readability of data made available by the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center.
- Comments: I do not necessarily trust the “open data” as city planning describes it. I asked for specifics on “data collected about parking on the South Side” at a meeting last evening and the gentleman was not able to answer all of my questions about how they obtained the data they used (in part) for decisions. For instance, only 14% of the residents were reached for feedback about a plan. The seniors who are not on social media or do not use the internet had no idea there was a survey available. This creates a lack of trust and transparency.
Question #10: I support an equitable post-pandemic economic recovery to ensure small businesses can get back on their feet. This includes relief resources for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as fostering reskilling initiatives for workers and advancing equitable employment in the area’s fastest-growing industries, such as robotics, software, life sciences and other sectors of tech.
- Comments: However, the manner in which the city placed the bike lanes, cut-outs, and parking for bicycles and scooters is devastating small business because of a lack of parking in addition to the businesses having difficulty getting deliveries. The city cannot say they care about small business when they take away parking for the same small businesses across the city.
Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.-30-