Skip to content

Government Study Commission candidates hold press conference

Several candidates Wilkinsburg Future is supporting for the government study commission spoke at a press conference on Tuesday, October 11 at the Wilkinsburg Borough Building.

The key takeaway was the need for publicly accountable research.

“A study is not a vote for or against combining Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh. Rather, it is a vote to learn with transparency and share with accountability before making a choice. There is no harm in a community having more knowledge before making a decision as important and as irreversible as this.”

Keywanda Battle, commissioner candidate

“As someone who is a firm proponent of research, I am open to what the research tells us. I don’t think annexation could directly be studied as an option, but what we might find is that within the legal realm of what we can change through the home rule process, that might not be as favorable an option as something like annexation.”

Kim Kaplan, commission candidate

Other candidates emphasized a point that we share: in the unlikely event that the repealed annexation law is upheld as valid, annexation is likely to fail at the ballot referendum given so little support in our person-to-person polling, so someone must be taking meaningful action to find ways to fix Wilkinsburg. WF believes that this government study commission is one way to do that.

“The way we’re looking at it is, if the annexation is no longer legal, which is quite possible, or if Pittsburgh City Council voted it down like it did last time, or if it lost an election if and when it finally got there, then Wilkinsburg is still stuck with the same government, same status quo. This is a positive opportunity to change the borough through its own processes.”

Jacquet Kehm, commissioner candidate

One speaker shared our ire at disinformation about the government study commission handed out and mailed to Wilkinsburg voters as well as posted on the Wilkinsburg Merger Facebook page.

WESA offered the best coverage of the event in Amid annexation talk, Wilkinsburg voters to weigh creation of government study commission.

One thing of note in the coverage below, re: lamenting that there are only seven candidates for the seven commissioner positions. Under the legal process for petitioning for the commission and then its candidates, everyone in Wilkinsburg had the same amount of time to collect signatures to become a candidate for commissioner: approximately three weeks. WF along with its friends and neighbors powered through the collection, surprising even ourselves. It was close. Not all candidates who collected signatures collected enough to be on the ballot; the relevant laws limit the number of petitions a registered voter can sign to the number of candidate slots there are. The signature collection process is challenging, especially in the hot Pittsburgh summer, and the pandemic greatened the difficulty. Any Wilkinsburger could have collected signatures for this temporary, unpaid, public office, and we should applaud those who tried to as as much as those who succeed in placing themselves in the public eye in this form of public service.