Pittsburgh's 135th City Council opened session today with the swearing-in of three newly-elected and two re-elected members, followed by election of Council President and the assignment of committees.
The session opened with a benediction by the Bishop of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese, David Zubik, who remembered former Councilman Eugene "Jeep" DePasquale, whose funeral was being held at the time. A photo of DePasquale sat in the front of chambers throughout the session.
Family, friends and supporters crowded chambers and the halls outside as Darlene Harris and Doug Shields were sworn in again, and new members Bruce Kraus, the Reverend Ricky Burgess, and Patrick Dowd were sworn in for their first terms in office. Their remarks afterward focused on the challenges that the city faces in becoming financially stable while stirring economic development and improving public safety.
Council's first act was to elect its President. The had been a race between previous president Doug Shields and councilman Jim Motznik, with Tonya Payne a possible compromise candidate. However, Motznik nominated Shields, who was elected unanimously. Shields and Motznik said later that the matter had been resolved over the weekend through discussion with all of the council members. Payne was absent from the vote.
Shields then named each member to chair of a standing committee, and created a new panel to create an agenda for the current council, with Dowd as chair. Shields says he hopes to see something come from it to help create consensus among the members within the next two months.