NEWS - Rev Welch mounts challenge to Peduto


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Rev. Welch mounts challenge to Peduto

Christian Morrow

New Pittsburgh Courier

Though they share some of the same constituencies and policy objectives, Rev. John Welch declared last week that he would run against incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto, saying he’s decided to stop waiting for other people to help the citizens get what they are entitled to.Reverend Welch made the official announcement to an enthusiastic crowd, Jan. 21, at the Homewood branch of the Carnegie Library. Reverend Richard Freeman, pastor at Resurrection Baptist Church in Braddock, introduced Rev. Welch as a longtime friend who has “a vision of equality, economic vitality and safety for all our communities.”

“The schism between those sharing in grand standard of living and those who don’t is widening. Many communities have not tasted from the refreshing waters of renaissance,” said Freeman. “Everyone must be a recipient of the wellspring of prosperity. The man I know who will carry the torch and make Pittsburgh the most livable city for all its residents is my friend Rev. John C. Welch.”

Calling it “an exciting day for Pittsburgh,” Welch said the city is in pain.

“There is pain of homelessness, the pain of unemployment and under employment, of the racially profiled, of the lack of affordable housing,” he said.

"We need a movement. And by launching this movement, we can eliminate the pain and build prosperity. But to become most livable city, we must first become the most equitable. It’s not fair when bike lanes take priority over blight, and it’s not fair that East Liberty looks like Monaco and Belzthoover looks like Monaca.”Welch, 56, is the dean of students at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and a past president of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network. He is also a former chaplain for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

Though he supported Peduto in 2013, he said the promise of that campaign remains unfulfilled for many Pittsburghers.

“I want to focus on his three previous council terms not just the one as mayor,” he said. “That’s 6,200 days of elected service with not too much to show for it.”

Though Welch has broad policy objectives—increasing homeownership and the tax base, improving police-community relations, attracting businesses that pay sustaining wages, providing training for those jobs, halting gentrification and displacement, hiring more police, and improving educational outcomes for at-risk children—he said specific policy recommendations will be released as the campaign evolves.

And while he is aware that Pittsburgh has never un-elected a sitting mayor, let alone in favor of a political outsider, Welch is undaunted.

“Being raised by two deaf adults gave me a perspective and a respect for those who have to overcome barriers to live lives as close to normal as possible,” he said.

“So entering into a race against an incumbent mayor does not deter me.”

The Democratic primary election will be held May 16.

(J.L. Martello contributed to this story.)



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