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Pittsburgh Mayor Candidates Focus On Public Safety And Race

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The most visible contest in Tuesday's primary is the race for mayor of Pittsburgh.

After profiling all four candidates for mayor, KDKA political editor Jon Delano has been reporting on many other races on the ballot. Now he takes a look at the issues that separate the candidates for mayor.

All four candidates got similar questions: If you are elected mayor of Pittsburgh, what is your first priority on day one? How safe is the city of Pittsburgh? Is Pittsburgh a systemically racist city? Are you willing to pledge not to raise city taxes if you're elected mayor?

On public safety, Mayor Bill Peduto said Pittsburgh is safer than ever because the city was among the first "to start implicit bias training and de-escalation techniques with our officers."

"And what it's resulted in is less homicides, less violent crime, less complaints to the Citizens Police Review Board," added Peduto.

But retired police officer Tony Moreno says the city is "dangerous" because police cannot do their job.

"The police officers are confused. They have a hard time because they are sworn to protect our citizens and enforce the law," said Moreno. "And the mayor has now come out and said, if you do that, I'm going to punish you. So that's part of the problem."

Pennsylvania Rep. Ed Gainey sees crime as related to poverty, not the number of police.

"In low-income communities, particularly in some of these communities where homicides are happening, public safety is not going to solve it. We need a public health plan. We need to deal with the trauma. We need to make sure we're dealing with the poverty," says Gainey.

Math tutor Mike Thompson says Pittsburgh's crime rate is still better than most.

"The city of Pittsburgh is, on the whole, fairly safe. If you look at other rust belt towns like Cleveland, Detroit, we do better time and again," says Thompson.

As for the city being racist, there's some agreement, of sorts.

"Systemic racism is basically an undefined term. What I do know is that the policies that have been put forth in this city go against the Black communities," said Moreno.

"Disparity based on race is very real in the city of Pittsburgh. And we've sought out ways to begin to lessen it. Will it be done overnight? Of course not," said Peduto.

"We do have some institutional racism in this city, and we all know that. That goes back way before you and I. But at the end of the day, I also have to look to the future of how do we build a city that is inclusive of all?" said Gainey.

"I don't think we're more racist or systemically racist than other cities. We're very segregated, but at the same time, Pittsburghers have an open heart. We're the town of Mister Rogers," notes Thompson.

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