By Pat Higgins | Asst. Sports Editor
Les Ludwig believes he will be Pittsburgh’s mayor following Tuesday’s election.
The independent candidate on the ballot who needed 1,500 signatures for the right to compete in what could end up being a lopsided race is running on a platform that addresses issues in education, taxation and racism.
Though he lacks Democratic nominee Bill Peduto’s political experience, Ludwig believes he has the capacity to bring effective reform in several different spheres of city government marred by corruption in recent years. Why?
“My middle name is ‘Make it happen,’” Ludwig claimed.
A businessman who got his start in the frozen eggs and fruit business in his 20s, Ludwig said he got involved in politics living on Bedford Square in the Lower Hill and saw first-hand injustices in the community.
“They’re people that got problems that we’re not doing anything about,” he said.
Ludwig, who grew up in southwest Philadelphia, said he has a plan to educate every child in Pittsburgh because “every kid who came out of high school who had the intelligence to go to college should be able to do so.”
More important than his education initiative is his plan to eliminate taxation in Pittsburgh altogether through 2012 legislation called Market Based Revenue Opportunities.
According to Ludwig, who claimed he developed the plan from scratch, seven major cities across the country including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Huntington Beach, Calif. are following his thinking in leasing public space for advertising to corporations.
The Huntington Beach community is already realizing the benefits of the system – the city will receive $650,000 annually over the course of 10 years from an exclusivity contract with Coca-Cola. The contract gives Coke the right to be the only brand in dispensing machines and gives the city funding they didn’t have before to clean the streets, Ludwig said.
Ludwig believes this type of agreement could have a positive impact on Pittsburgh.
“There is here a perfect opportunity for the electorate to come into play with our American ingenuity which I plan to reward by payment of a 10 percent award for productive ideas for five years when I take office,” he said. “This idea, when applied nationally in every community and level of government, can provide when taxed by the federal government a way out of our national deficit.”
Pointing to a wall in Starbucks on the South Side, he said, “For Les Ludwig, it’s not a wall. It’s also a surface, and if that surface belongs to the government and faces the public, why not lease it? Therefore you would have non-tax income for government and with no overhead, you have zero percent [overhead cost].”
“There’s no cost to it, and if we take it far enough, we might be able to run the city of Pittsburgh without any taxation.”
Democrat Bill Peduto may be the front runner in the race, but Ludwig believes he is capable of bringing legitimate change to a city he believes has been plagued by a Democratic party that “has a record of 80 years of stealing.”
“I’m here. I made it happen. I believe in what I’m doing [and] I believe I’m going to win.”