In the late hours of Election Day, Bill Peduto was the champion of Pittsburgh.
By 10 p.m. on Tuesday evening, during Peduto’s election night party, the 49-year-old held a wrestling championship belt, given to him by an audience member, high over his head in triumph.
It signified that he had finally won, and that the race was over.
The election, considered a foregone conclusion by mid-day, came to an official end with Peduto claiming nearly 85 percent of the votes cast by 43,722 Pittsburghers.
Though Peduto overwhelmed Republican candidate Josh Wander and independent Les Ludwig, the overall voter turnout was underwhelming. Compared to the 2007 special election that allowed Luke Ravenstahl to retain office, the election on Tuesday saw nearly 25,000 less voters.
The abysmal voter turnout did not diminish enthusiasm for those who cast ballots for Peduto.
Supporters gathered en masse at the Greater Pittsburgh Coliseum in Homewood. Free food and drinks were provided for the excited party crowd. After greetings were exchanged, it was time for the premiere event.
Peduto’s first appearance as mayor-elect was preceded by announcements of victory by his fellow Democrats and a brief appearance by his family. Peduto strode onto stage to the song “Do Ya” by Electric Light Orchestra equipped with a broom, a symbol for his plan to ‘clean up’ city government. The evening reached its climax as it was finally time for the mayor-elect to speak to his new constituents.
He spoke about building from within, and “rebuilding the neighborhoods that built this region,” an idea that was prevalent during his campaign.
“That’s the premise of a new Pittsburgh, where every neighborhood has that same opportunity to see the potential that we know is there,” Peduto said. “We are at a transformative time in this city’s history.”
Peduto’s message resonated with the crowd. Upon finishing his speech, supporters rushed the stage to shake the mayor-elect’s hand. Peduto, clutching his broom, spent several minutes shaking every one of those hands.
On Tuesday night, Peduto was the most popular man in the city. He earned his visage as Yinzer-in-Chief by sticking to a message of spreading the power of city government to the everyday Pittsburgher.
Peduto outlined his plan for the city on his website through a web-portal called “100 Polices; 100 Days.” From that page, visitors can peruse policy proposals that range from calling for a referendum on restructuring public transit to creating a mobile app that will show you where snowplows are in the city.
When Peduto officially takes office in January, he will finally get his chance to enact these policies and begin to make his vision of the city a reality. As he said in his speech, Pittsburgh is “the next great American city.”
Peduto hopes he can be the one to take us there.