Pittsburgh Mayoral Candidate Wants More Neighborhood Engagement

Mar 26, 2013

Under a Michael Lamb administration the Pittsburgh Office of Neighborhood Initiatives would be renamed and have its powers expanded.

Lamb, a Democratic mayoral candidate and current City Controller, announced that if elected he would rename the department the Office of Neighborhood Engagement.

The current Office of Neighbor Initiatives oversees projects like Green Up Pittsburgh, an initiative that works to create green spaces out of vacant lots, and Operation Weed and Seed, a partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice to improve neighborhood safety.

Lamb said the revamped office will establish a network of neighborhood coordinators who hold office hours and open forums. He said coordinators will file monthly reports to the mayor’s office.

“So we’ll know exactly who’s getting served and who isn’t,” Lamb said. “If a neighborhood’s being neglected I’ll know about it right away and demand a plan to fix that problem. And if that neglect continues, then I’ll personally get out and hold a town meeting and bring the head of every city department there with me to figure out what we’re doing wrong and what we need to change.”  

Lamb said cities that have switched to models like the one he’s proposing see higher civic participation and provide better services to neighborhoods.

He said there are currently some neighborhoods that are treated better than others. He said he would work to create equality in how city services are delivered.

“We know that if we have a localized structure for these kind of issues," Lamb said. "We can begin to customize strategies for economic development based on the unique assets and needs of each individual neighborhood.”

Lamb said the office has provided good community programs during the Luke Ravenstahl administration.

He said he will keep the office’s best ideas going but expand on what the office provides to focus on in-depth neighborhood engagement.

Six Democrats are running in the mayoral primary, including Lamb, current City Council President Darlene Harris, Councilman Bill Peduto, Community Organizer A.J. Richardson, former state Auditor General Jack Wagner and Pennsylvania Representative Jake Wheatley.