Pittsburgh 2017 Primary Election Mayoral candidates talk hunger and poverty

On May 2, Just Harvest and Pittsburgh Food Policy Council held a Debate on Hunger and Poverty among Pittsburgh’s three candidates for mayor who will be on the Democratic ballot in the May 16 Primary Election: current mayor, Bill Peduto, took the stage with his challengers: Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Darlene Harris and Dr. John Welch.

Just Harvest works to hold public officials accountable for their policies on hunger, poverty, and economic injustice. This forum aimed to put the people who want to lead our community on the spot. We are non-partisan and do not endorse or oppose any candidates.

We asked eleven questions: eight developed by Just Harvest, Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, and debate moderator Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Chris Potter. Three additional questions were submitted in advance by attendees.

Q1 Hunger and Food Insecurity: What causes hunger and food insecurity in our city, and what should city government do about it? Please speak to solutions that go beyond providing charitable or emergency food provision. View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q2 Fresh Food Access: Nearly 1 in 2 Pittsburghers live in food deserts — neighborhoods without ready access to healthy, affordable food. That is the highest proportion of any city its size, according to the US Treasury Department. What would you do to address this problem? View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q3 Gentrification: How would you protect residents of historically underserved communities from displacement in neighborhoods where development is taking place? View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q4 Public Transit: What will you do as Mayor to ensure reliable transportation opportunities for those residents who don’t own or cannot drive cars and whose neighborhoods are not currently well-served by mass transit? View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q5 Farmers Markets: As a critical source of fresh, local, and nutritious food that is essential to our public health and community vibrancy how would you promote and improve the city’s farmers market program and lift up the value of this public asset. View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q6 Wages: What will you do to improve the wages or the working conditions, on matters like paid family leave, for example, for low-income workers here in the City of Pittsburgh? View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q7 Fresh Corner Stores: What can and should the city do to encourage corner stores in low-income neighborhoods to carry low-income foods? View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q8 Urban Agriculture: What is the role of urban agriculture in the city and what would you do as mayor to strengthen the role that it plays? View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q9 Civic Engagement: Policy cannot stand alone in this city; we also need people to participate. How would you motivate Pittsburgh residents to increase their levels of civic engagement? View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q10 Public Schools: What will you do to make our schools more equitable? View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

Q11 Poverty: How can we call Pittsburgh the most livable city in America when we have a higher rate of poverty than the U.S. as a whole? And what will you do about it as Mayor? View the candidates’ responses on YouTube.

But these questions all boil down to one: if you are elected, what will you do to ensure economic justice for all?

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