'This North Side boy lived his dream': Ravenstahl removes bid for re-election

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PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced Friday that he will no longer seek re-election. Ravenstahl told a room packed with reporters that he made the decision with a "clear mind and without reservation."

After nearly 24 hours of speculation, Ravenstahl said he decided to pull out of the May 21 primary after careful consideration.

"After a considerable amount of thought, I am here today to announce that I'm dropping my bid for re-election, and I do so with a clear mind," Ravenstahl said.

During his 10-minute speech, Ravenstahl said that he has not taken his role as mayor lightly, but the toll it has taken on his friends and family is what ultimately what led to his decision.  

“Ten years ago this month I began the journey that led to where I am standing today,” said Ravenstahl. “I am proud of my role in making this city what it is today.”

He also noted that the FBI investigation into Pittsburgh Police Department's spending was not a factor in his decision.

"Politics is what it is. Many will speculate about my motive and will conclude that the investigation is the reason for my decision today. I have done nothing wrong, and that will be proven over time," said Ravenstahl.

The FBI investigation raised questions about Ravenstahl's spending while traveling with police bodyguards who had debit cards linked to secret credit union accounts. Last week, Ravenstahl emerged from a two-hour interview with FBI agents and forced police Chief Nate Harper to resign.

Prosecutors have charged nobody. Ravenstahl said investigators told him that he's not a target. He said that his bodyguards used the cards for legitimate expenses.

“The grueling demands of this office are difficult to describe, and the sacrifices are significant,” Ravenstahl said.

An exit from the race marked a stunning turnabout for Ravenstahl, who has spent virtually his entire 10 years in the professional workforce as a politician buoyed by a family with two generations of political involvement.

Ravenstahl became the city's youngest-ever mayor at age 26. He took office in 2006 because he was City Council president when Mayor Bob O'Connor died, and he won a special election in 2007 to finish that term and was re-elected to a full four-year term in 2009.

Ravenstahl will remain in office to complete his current term, which will end in January 2014.

“I’m grateful and honored to have held this position. I’m proud of this city and its resilience. I’m proud of the people, and I’m proud to be its mayor,” Ravenstahl said.

At the conclusion of his speech, Ravenstahl said he is proud of what the city of Pittsburgh has accomplished during his years in office and thanked all of his supporters.

“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve. I’ve achieved things that would have never been possible for me without the support of my family, voters, supporters and staff,” Ravenstahl said.

He also referred to former Steelers coach Bill Cower.

"Bill Cowher, during his retirement speech, said something that I will never forget. The 15-year coach to his hometown team said, 'This Crafton boy lived his dream.' I remember thinking to myself that I hope I get to live mine. Little did I know, I was already five months into it. This North Side boy has lived his dream," he said.

City Councilman Bill Peduto and Controller Michael Lamb are currently the two candidates running to replace Ravenstahl. City residents will vote on the next mayor in the May 21 primary.

Asked by reporters whether he would encourage others to enter the mayor's race, he laughed, paused, then said yes. He said he would encourage a third person to join the race, but declined to identify the person or say whether it was a man or woman. He and his mother gave a simultaneous “no!” when he was asked whether his brother, state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, was that person.

Ravenstahl said he has not decided what he might do for work after his term ends in December. Ravenstahl has a degree in business administration from Washington and Jefferson College and executive experience, but said he has not decided whether business would be his next career. He said he might consider running for another elected position.

“I have no clue what I'll do in January,” he said, adding that he looked forward to taking a vacation and spending more time with his family and son, Cooper, 4. He said his mother is having “medical issues” but that is not the reason he decided to drop out of the mayoral race.