Rich Fitzgerald appeared with an array of African-American leaders at a sunlit Freedom Corner Thursday afternoon, showcasing their endorsement in his race for county executive against county Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty..
Mr. Fitzgerald said he and the community leader who appeared with him shared an agenda that included increasing the number of African-American department heads and members of county boards and commissions, increasing the number of certified minority business enterprises and reviewing the effectiveness of social service and anti-poverty programs.
“There are two Allegheny Countys,’’ Mr. Fitzgerald said. “One is home to America's most livable cites, while the other has highest rate of poverty among working age African-Americans of the nation’s 40 largest metropolitan areas.’’
Though he served in its legislative, rather than executive branch, Mr. Fitzgerald was for more than a decade part of the county government whose minority record he now vows to reform. Asked to assess the current administration, he said it had made progress on issues such as advancing minorities to leadership roles but added, “It’s better than it’s been but we do have to do more.’’The group standing with him at the iconic Hill District memorial comprised allies and rivals within the county’s African-American leadership. They included state Reps. Jake Wheatley, and Joe Preston, city Councilman Robert Daniel Lavelle, Tonya Payne, the former council member who was ousted by Mr. Lavelle in the 2009 Democratic primary election; Clifton Pitts, of the Mon Valley Peoples Action Committee and a pair of Fitzgerald former county colleagues, Amanda Green-Hawkins, and Brenda Frazi