Ed Gainey sworn in as first Black mayor of Pittsburgh

“We will work to make Pittsburgh the Pittsburgh you voted for," Gainey said during his inauguration ceremony.

The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has a new mayor and his name is Ed Gainey.

The 51-year-old former state lawmaker took his oath of office Monday afternoon, two months after defeating retired police officer Tony Moreno to become the 61st mayor in Pittsburgh’s 206-year chartered history and the first Black person to ever hold that title.

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Mayor Ed Gainey speaks during his inauguration ceremony on Jan. 3, 2022 (Credit: Screenshot)

“My victory represents another step forward in advancing the vision of a country where all people have access to opportunities to succeed,” Gainey said during his inauguration speech. “Our city is at its best when every resident has a seat at a table. We are at our best when we are defined by the strength, compassion and boldness of our collective spirit.”

Setting the tone ahead of Gainey’s historic swearing-in ceremony was a group of kids from the city’s Sankofa Village for the Arts, who performed an African drum and dance routine, and a choir from Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, which sang Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, told inauguration viewers via Zoom chat that he’s known Gainey for many years while Gainey served in the state house of representatives.

“I know him as a very strong leader who has time and time again demonstrated his immense strength of character, his determination to lift up people in his community,” Wolf said. “As mayor he is going to use the full force of his determination, his strength and his dedication to put the people of Pittsburgh first.”

Gainey was born and raised in Pittsburgh where he ran for the state house twice before winning his third race in 2012, according to KDKA-TV. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Morgan State University, an HBCU in Baltimore, and worked in various government agencies before becoming a politician.

Gainey gained prominence after speaking out passionately against the 2018 police killing of Antwon Rose. He scored an upset Democratic primary victory over Pittsburgh’s incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto last May to set up his Nov. 2 win over Republican candidate Moreno.

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State Rep. Ed Gainey speaks during a protest calling for justice for Antwon Rose II on June 26, 2018 in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)

Gainey’s mayoral triumph capped off a pivotal election cycle for Black political candidates in the Pittsburgh area. The top four vote recipients running for common pleas court judge positions in Allegheny County were Black, according to WESA.

“America’s changing,” Gainey told the radio station after his victory in November. “You’re seeing a change in acceptance. We’re still not there yet, in terms of not hating each other for the color of skin, or gender, or who you love. But we’re moving in that direction. That’s obvious in these races.”

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