I am an entrepreneur. By my nature I don’t want other people to have authority over my life. Yet while I tend to bristle at the thought of any politician making decisions on my behalf, I would consider it an honor to call Bill Peduto my mayor. In fact, I just switched my party registration so I can vote in the Democratic primary this May.
Why is this? Well, we could talk policy, but Mr. Peduto and his opponents are already doing plenty of that. Instead, I’m going to tell you about my experience with the man I want to see lead our city for the next four years.
Above all, I have no doubt that Mr. Peduto cares deeply about the residents of Pittsburgh. Whoever you are, he will take you seriously. Just like he took me seriously when I was a twenty-something with an unknown hot dog shoppe in the back of a cathedral downtown. Mr. Peduto understands that a great city is not created by one man or a handful of organizations from the top, but rather from an organic tapestry of people and ideas, woven together into a pattern of complex urban beauty. In other words, however small your idea may be, Mr. Peduto genuinely wants to know about it and help you execute if Pittsburgh will be a better place for it.
Furthermore, in conversations I’ve had with Mr. Peduto it is apparent that he cares tremendously about both Pittsburgh’s legacy and future. I once attended a baseball game with Mr. Peduto and I learned more about the history of Pittsburgh’s skyline in two hours at PNC Park than I gathered about the New York skyline during an entire childhood spent with a view of the Empire State Building from my hometown. Mr. Peduto will never lose sight of Pittsburgh’s proud lineage and, perhaps more importantly, has compelling ideas about where our city should go. He has sought the mayor’s office in the past and finally deserves the opportunity to lead our city in the direction he proposes.
Finally, one of Mr. Peduto’s greatest qualities as a leader is his desire to listen. Several years ago Mr. Peduto developed an interest in revising the rules that currently govern food trucks in Pittsburgh. Among the first things he did, well before proposing legislation changes, was to actively seek out the opinions of Pittsburgh restaurateurs while researching best practices of other cities with thriving restaurant and food truck cultures.
The fact that Mr. Peduto went out of his way to approach me and my peers before attempting to create or change policy that directly impacts our livelihood is exactly the type of behavior that consistently sets him apart from other politicians. He wasn’t lobbied, but took exploratory initiative with an issue simply because he observed a way in which his city might improve. Isn’t that how it should be?
So, why am I voting for Mr. Peduto? Beneath my bristly political exterior I am a team player. When the leader of a team with which I am involved has earned my respect I am fully on board. Bill Peduto has earned both my respect and my vote.