City of Pittsburgh Council District 3 has multiple personalities — the dense student population and health care community of Oakland contrasted with the aging infrastructure and neglected neighborhoods of the Hilltop sitting above the thriving entertainment district South Side has become.
When judging the candidates, the single yardstick we can set up beside the candidates that will measure their effectiveness is community involvement. Over the course of an average year, The South Pittsburgh Reporter will attend (and report about) as many as 100 community meetings and a like number of neighborhood events.
In recent community forums, all the candidates, Jeff Koch, Bruce Kraus, Jason Phillips and Gavin Robb have touted some community involvement: Mr. Koch with his local athletic association, Mr. Robb on the boards of the South Side Chamber of Commerce and the South Side Local Development Company and Mr. Phillips as a member of the Democratic Committee and at clean up events.
However, it is Mr. Kraus who stands alone in this respect. Whether cleaning up an illegal dump with volunteers in Carrick or updating area residents about plans for spray parks on the Hilltop or dog parks on South Side, the councilman has gone above and beyond the call of duty in working with residents of the neighborhoods.
Although often portrayed as at odds with bar owners and businesses on East Carson Street, they all ultimately want the same things for the commercial district: a clean and safe business district. Mr. Kraus has often touted his plan for the district calling for adherence to the principles of the Responsible Hospitality Institute.
Over the past four years, Mr. Kraus has shown he is a full-time councilman, often putting in 12 and 14 hours a day on city businesses. Among the candidates for District 3, he has demonstrated superior knowledge of the problems and concerns of not only the South Side neighborhoods, but of the Hilltop neighborhoods where there is greater need and challenges.
In many respects, the work in District 3 has just begun, the challenges of balancing a thriving business district with the needs of its residents in South Side and the need for more, not less services as city resources dwindle on the Hilltop. Mr. Kraus has earned the opportunity to run four more years for his work in the neighborhoods.
However, he should be watching over his shoulder, if Mr. Robb decides to pursue the office in four years, he is a rising star in the district. If he has the time and opportunity to learn more about and get involved with the Hilltop neighborhoods, he could be a formidable opponent.