The next general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Are you prepared to vote? The Northside Chronicle sat down with your City Council District 1 contenders to ask them what they think the Northside needs in a City Council representative, whether or not they support the city parks tax referendum, why they want to run for office, and the first problem they’ll tackle if they win.
By NSC Staff
Malcolm Jarrett, Socialist Workers Party
Campaign website: www.themilitant.com
Elevator pitch: “My campaign calls for working people to break from the two party system of big business. We need a fighting movement to organize and strengthen unions, and use union power to defend all working people. Our party presents a program to confront the economic, social and moral crisis caused by capitalism.”
Experience: Touring the nation with former presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy to advocate for workers’ rights; part of the 2019 U.S. delegation to the May Day brigade in Cuba; boots-on-the-ground resistance work against police brutality; Northsider since 2003.
Key issues: Unions – Jarrett’s campaign supports workers’ rights to organize and strengthen them and safe working conditions. Amnesty for undocumented immigrants – Jarrett believes there should be no difference between people with papers and people without them. Jobs – Jarrett supports union-scale wages ($15 or more per hour). Affordable housing – He says that the housing crisis is big in the Northside and it’s happening everywhere. Justice system reform – Jarrett plans to continue to fight against police brutality and racial discrimination and supports ex-prisoners’ right to vote.
What does the Northside need in a City Council representative? “A real voice for the working people. I think that’s what we get every time we petition: Working people don’t feel they have a voice. It’s always business interests and …who’s going to get taxed or not taxed, but it’s not about the issues that most working people are going through: living paycheck to paycheck, having to work two or three jobs, having to pay for healthcare.”
Do you support the Parks tax? “No, we don’t support any tax on working people. We don’t support anything that puts a bigger load on working people. Take it out of the wealthy businesses.”
What made you want to run for City Council? “There’s a responsibility that we feel as members of the Socialist Workers Party. Not only responsibility, it’s what we do: We are part of these elections to present that voice, especially at a time when there’s no other alternative voice out there, for working people. We run for City Council, we’ll run for mayor when the mayor race comes up, we’ll run for other seats. I’ve lived all over Pittsburgh… I love the Northside. The Northside is a great… representation of Pittsburgh to me. You have everything here, from …various ethnic and oppressed nationalities, …various groups of economic levels, but also cultural stuff that is going into what happened to Allegheny City… becom[ing] part of Pittsburgh, that fight. I have two kids, a son and a daughter. It’s a great, great area to live in and raise kids.”
If you win, what is the first problem you will tackle? “…Helping support a fighting labor movement …fighting for union-scale wages for both city workers and workers contracted through the city…, affordable housing, fighting for amnesty for the undocumented workers in this city.”
Chris Rosselot, Northsiders for Chris
Campaign website: www.chrisforcitycouncil.com
Elevator pitch: “I plan to lead a campaign that promotes collaboration and good government. I’m running because I want to represent everyone, including our most vulnerable citizens. I will exercise the initiative, vision, and leadership Northsiders deserve. I’m continuing to build a broad coalition of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, progressives, that want good government and Grant Street and the establishment is not working for them.”
Experience: Worked as an aide for U.S. Senator Bob Casey for six to seven years dealing with constituent service issues, like veteran’s benefits and social security benefits; former President of the Community Alliance of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown (CASGED); Northsider since 2003; Endorsed by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers
Key issues: Youth Policy – Rosselot advocates for a strong public school system and believes that it makes for thriving neighborhoods. He supports legislation to promote early education and preparation for the workforce. Equitable transportation – He plans to collaborate with neighborhood and city organizations to maintain and improve the transportation choices of Northsiders, including sidewalks, bike lanes, and bus stops. Public safety – Rosselot plans to help police officers in the Northside beat “maximize their resources” so they are out in the community instead of doing clerical work. Responsible development – He plans to work with both developers and neighborhood leaders in neglected Northside neighborhoods that are seeing greater real estate development to make sure that development is balanced, inclusive, and transparent. Small business – Rosselot advocates for small business owners to help them find resources to succeed. Infrastructure improvement – He commits to holding public utility companies like PWSA to task so that residents can continue to have clean, public drinking water. Constituents services – Accessibility is a “cornerstone” of his campaign. He plans to hold satellite office hours and regularly be “out in the field.”
What does the Northside need in a City Council representative? “It needs accessibility, it needs empathy—somebody who is going to listen to issues and empathize with them. I think experience matters.”
Do you support the Parks tax? “I’ve publicly come out against the referendum… I don’t believe that the homeowners should bear an additional tax burden when some of our largest nonprofits in the city like UPMC aren’t paying anything… I think a step in the right direction would be managing the funds that we do have appropriately and making sure different departments are working with public works in maintaining the parks… I question some of the transparency efforts–not necessarily by the Parks Conservancy… it’s more on the City side, on folks who are advocating for this referendum…”
What made you want to run for City Council? “I was just seeing a lack of services at the city level within my specific neighborhood [Spring Garden] and the Northside as a whole… Responsiveness. I think not everybody was being served, whether it was public works issues, parks issues, those types of issues. There was just a neglection of that.”
If you win, what is the first problem you will tackle? “The first thing would be office accessibility… The District 1 office isn’t working for everyone, so I would set up systems from day one, during the transition, so we’re ready to go.”
Bobby Wilson, Democratic Party
Campaign website: www.votebobbywilson.com
Elevator pitch: “I think people really need to be able to trust their local government. A lot of people, their concerns are within feet from their door: sidewalk, street, house next door, tree, different situations that come about that they’re alarmed by and they need help and they want to find solutions to fix those problems. I really want to build the trust with the residents [and] let them know that if they have an issue, [I will] make sure they have the right information. People really want to know that the office is more than just making policy—than just making law—[and] that it’s going to be a helpful resource to them.”
Experience: Studies lung disease as a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh; Fifth-generation Northsider; Endorsed by the Allegheny County Labor Council, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, SEIU-32BJ, Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of PA, Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees and the Gertrude Stein Political Club
Key issues: Equitable development – Wilson advocates against the displacement of longtime Pittsburghers and people who are economically vulnerable. Air and water – He believes that drinkable water and clean air are pillars to community health and quality of life. Safe Communities – Wilson wants to build trust between law enforcement and community members so they can work together to strengthen struggling neighborhoods. Transportation – He plans to prioritize the restoration of resources like roads, sidewalks, alleys, public transportation, bike lanes, and trails. Business districts – Wilson aims to connect the commercial strips on the main streets of the Northside to new businesses and reactivate stalled development. Working families – He will advocate for policies that benefit and empower working families. Office Accessibility – Wilson commits to being accessible and plans to have office hours to hear citizens’ concerns.
What does the Northside need in a City Council representative? “It needs someone that’s going to be very hard working, but also… really collaborative: someone that’s going to be able to work with everyone. Whether or not someone voted for me or didn’t vote for me, I plan to work with a lot of people to make sure things happen.”
Do you support the Parks tax? “I want the public to decide. But myself, I’m still learning more about this tax and what’s going to be circling around it and where the money will be spent… so I think the best is for people to continue to look into it and to …see if it’s best for them.”
What made you want to run for City Council? “In 2011, I recognized that we needed new leadership. I continued on to get more involved in my community, every opportunity that I was able to run… Then, it was in 2015… I knew that there would still continue to be a need for change… I’m someone that likes to solve problems and the more and more that I got involved with local issues, I realized how much it’s a passion to solve some of these problems.”
If you win, what is the first problem you will tackle? “I want to work on projects that are going to provide long-term affordable housing for people. It could be money in the capital budget for abandoned homes, it’s going to be leveraging more funds from the Housing Opportunity Fund, finding… gap funding for house sales that need a repair cost that may not be able to be covered by the owner of the house or the person that’s going to buy it. So, really to make sure that there is a better transition with some of these houses that are in disrepair.”