Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor will now also be the city’s first to have a remote inauguration, thanks to our good friend the ‘Rona.
Ed Gainey’s transition team announced on Tuesday that his swearing-in will now be viewable to the public via YouTube, but in-person festivities marking his installation were scrapped as a result of a surge in coronavirus cases, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
From the Post-Gazette
The public can view a livestream of the inauguration and swearing-in ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. on Jan. 3 on the city’s YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter, as well as its TV channel.
City and transition leaders made the decision “in accordance with guidance from public health officials,” according to a release.
In May, Gainey, a Democrat, won Pittsburgh’s general election, making him the first Black mayor-elect in the city’s 205-year history as well as putting him in the rare position of being Black while occupying the highest elected municipal office in a majority-white city. Pittsburgh’s population has dwindled by more than half since 1950; only 23 percent of its current 302,971 residents are Black.
Gainey, a state rep from the city’s mostly-Black Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood (note: this writer is from the same neighborhood), will have the task of turning around the city’s deep racial disparities at the same time as it deals with the coronavirus pandemic. Pittsburgh’s majority-white, nine-member city council voted this year to declare racism a public health crisis. Covid-19 cases are more rampant among the area’s Black population than in other racial groups, despite whites accounting for more than 60% of the city’s overall population.
And then there’s the infamous report calling Pittsburgh statistically one of the worst places in the country for Black folks to live.
As we’ve written before, Gainey isn’t the only incoming Black mayor to have the pandemic disrupt his transition. Both he and Atlanta mayor-elect Andre Dickens both received positive Covid-19 tests this month, but Gainey’s was eventually determined a false positive.
Newark mayor Ras Baraka, who was elected in 2014, said he tested positive on Dec. 22, but is asymptomatic.