Dan Gilman named new chief of staff to Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto

Dan Gilman named new chief of staff to Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto

Author: Stephen Caruso/Tuesday, December 19, 2017/Categories: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman is Mayor Bill Peduto’s new chief of staff.

Peduto made the announcement in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon. Gilman, 35, will finish out his term as District 8 representative, which includes Shady Side, Point Breeze and North Squirrel Hill among others, before taking over the position on January 3, 2018.

“It’s an incredible honor to be asked to serve in this role to the mayor of your city,” Gilman said after a city council meeting Tuesday.

The position became open after former chief of staff Kevin Acklin announced his resignation on Dec. 7 to pursue work in the private sector.

The seat has, over the past decades, been passed down from chief of staff to chief of staff. Peduto served as chief of staff to former District 8 councilman Dan Cohen in the 90's. Then, Gilman served as chief of staff to Peduto before he ran for the seat in 2013 when Peduto successfully ran for mayor.

But, Gilman noted, that when serving under Peduto for the first time, he managed a staff of two. Now, he will manage 3,000 city employees with a $550 million budget.

Still, in the release, Peduto expressed his confidence in his soon to be right-hand man.

"Dan is the perfect person to continue my and Kevin's work the last four years to make Pittsburgh a city for all. In fact, he's been integral to that work all along," Peduto said in a statement. "I am grateful to Dan and his family for taking this next step in his public service to the city."

The choice also brought praise from City Council President and District 3 Representative Bruce Kraus.

“Not only is Councilman Gilman a colleague, he’s a personal friend, and I don’t know if the mayor could have made a better selection,” Kraus said.

Gilman’s empty seat will be filled with a special election on a date chosen by Kraus. He did not give any indications of when that date would be.

As of Tuesday evening, two Pittsburghers had already taken to Twitter to announce their candidacy for the open seat.

Erika Strassburger, Gilman's own chief of staff, announced in a Twitter thread that she was running for the seat held by her former boss to expand on his progressive agenda.

"I have loved getting to know everyone who lives and works in our district, and I’m proud of what our office has accomplished, from ensuring a fair and open government, to advocating for the rights of vulnerable populations, to prioritizing clean water and a healthy environment," Strassburger said.

Also in a tweet, Sonja Finn, an East End chef and restaurateur, announced a campaign with a single image of a campaign placard bearing her name for District 8.

Finn, a 38 year old James Beard-nominated chef, said she thinks her background in the food industry, which has rapidly grown to become the largest employer in the Pittsburgh area, makes her an ideal candidate.

"Wouldn’t it be good to have somebody in city council who knows how this leading industry in Pittsburgh runs?" Finn said in an interview Wednesday.

For example, Finn pointed to the paid leave law, passed by council but now held up from implementation in the courts. She thought her knowledge of the industry could have lead to better, achievable legislation.

Overall, the Pittsburgh-native and Point Breeze resident thought her progressive credentials, such as adopting a "no-tip" policy at one of her restaurants, could help make her a strong advocate for more inclusive development in the city.

Finn added that she plans to run for the Democratic nomination, but would run as an independent if she doesn't get the party nod.

But, she was quick to add, "not running as a Democrat would make my heart hurt just a little bit."