By Julian Routh | News Editor
In the warmth of Heinz Hall on Monday afternoon, Pittsburgh was ushered into a new era.
The new era, deemed “The Next Pittsburgh,” began when 49-year-old Bill Peduto took the oath of office to become the city’s new mayor, taking the reins of a city that had been in Luke Ravenstahl’s hands for over seven years.
Peduto, who spent 19 years on Pittsburgh City Council, placed his hand on the Bible which belonged to his late brother Tom, and was administered the oath from retired state Superior Court Judge Justin Johnson.
Max and Sue Sciullo, parents of slain Pittsburgh police officer Paul Sciullo, held the Bible.
Shortly after the crowd of nearly 4,000 gave him a standing ovation, Pittsburgh’s new captain delivered an inaugural address that honored past mayors, denounced political corruption and promised “an agenda for the future.”
“The things we do in the next few years – the efforts we undertake together, as a city – will determine the fortunes of generations to come,” Peduto said. “Pittsburgh has given the nation and the world the steel framework on which an entire age was built.”
In his speech, Peduto reflected on the last decade, saying that some events “have raised questions about some of our civic institutions, and scandal has caused us to wonder if government can again be a force for true progress.” These “challenging times” that the new mayor spoke about could be alluding to the police scandal that plagued the Ravenstahl administration.
However, Peduto assured the audience that reform is on its way.
“There is nothing wrong with the institutions of this city that cannot be repaired by good faith, square dealing and hard work,” Peduto said. “I will not make the mistake of assuming that my ascension to the office of mayor is, in itself, political reform. It is my job to turn this moment into an opportunity for reform.”
Ravenstahl was in attendance, along with dozens of other Pittsburgh politicians, council members and company presidents. All were acknowledged by master of ceremonies Bishop Loran Mann of Pentecostal Temple Church of God and Christ in East Liberty.
Councilman Bruce Kraus was also in attendance, just hours after Pittsburgh City Council named him its new president.
The ceremony started at 1 p.m. with a performance by Pittsburgh musician Joe Grushecky and the CAPA High School choir. During the performance, Grushecky pointed at Peduto and said “this one is for Bill.” Jeff Jimerson performed the national anthem and the Boy Scouts of America led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Heinz Hall crowd rose to its feet after local artist Vanessa German, in an energetic spoken word speech, repeated “the city is ours today.”
“We rise and claim the reins of change with both hands,” German said. “We aim ourselves to the stars, for we are champions.”
After the ceremony, Peduto and his team walked blocks over to the PPG Wintergarden, where supporters lined up out the door to get a picture with the new mayor.
The swearing-in ceremony was originally to be held outdoors on Grant Street, with Peduto taking the oath on the City-County Building stairs. Anticipated freezing temperatures forced Peduto’s transition team to move the festivities indoors.
“It is cold out there today,” Peduto said in his address. “Let’s warm our city with the fires of reform and the sunlight of a new era.”