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Five new council members sworn in | The Homepage

By Ann Belser

It was a complete change of roles for the Wagner-Mosely family.

For years, Chelsa Wagner has been the member of the family with her hand on “The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” as she was sworn into office: First as a state representative, then as the Allegheny County Controller, and most recently as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

But on Jan. 8, Judge Wagner was in her robes to administer the oath of office to her husband, Khari Mosely, as the Representative of District 9 on Pittsburgh City Council. As in the past, the Point Breeze North couple asked their sons Thadius, 14, and Isaiah, 11, to hold the Bible for their father’s left hand.

“For the past year I’ve been talking a lot about the idea of transformation: emphasizing the ability we have to positively transform lives; that we have to be bold, think big and rise up — above cynicism, above division, above pessimism, above intimidation, above retribution, above coercion, above provincialism, above self-absorption, above opportunism, above negativity, above being victims, and above the myopia that has plagued our politics,” Mr. Mosely said after taking the oath of office.

“Our city is experiencing a transformational moment and our generation has been tasked with the responsibility to seize a once-in-a-century opportunity that lays the foundation for Pittsburgh that embodies the type of prosperity, vibrancy and diversity that epitomizes our progressive values.”

Mr. Moseley’s council district represents East Hills, East Liberty, Friendship, Garfield, Homewood, Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, Point Breeze and Point Breeze North.

A white-haired man stands behind a boy in a suit who holds a book; a woman in a suit places her hand on the book and raises the other hand.
District Judge James J. Hanley Jr., the Greenfield magistrate, administers the oath of office City Councilmember Barb Warwick, who represents District 5, as her son Alfie Swartzbaugh, 11, holds the U.S. Constitution. Photo by Ann Belser

District 5’s new-ish council member, Barb Warwick, was also sworn in for her first full term. She won a special election to replace Corey O’Connor when he was appointed County Controller in 2022. She described that partial term as the best year of her life. District 5 runs from Squirrel Hill South, Regent Square and Swisshelm Park to Greenfield and Lincoln Place, including Hazelwood, Glen Hazel and Hays.

She was sworn in by District Judge James J. Hanley Jr., the Greenfield magistrate, as her son Alfie Swartzbaugh,11, held the U.S. Constitution.

In her speech, which was as specific as Mosely’s was lofty, Ms. Warwick spoke to each of the members, welcoming the newer ones and addressing those with whom she served for the past year.

“I want to say just a little bit about what a badass team I think we are. In this one year since I have been here, I have watched [District 7 councilmember] Deb Gross win millions for food justice and that uses parking fees to make our streets safer for bikes and pedestrians.

“I have seen [District 1 councilmember] Bobby Wilson fight to relieve Pittsburgh families of crushing medical debt, get city workers free bike share and introduce zoning changes that make it easier to open a childcare business.

“[District 4 councilmember] Anthony Coghill has consistently stood behind city workers in advocating for the build-up of our fleets while also pushing hard for better contracts that will save Pittsburgh taxpayers millions.

“[District 8 Councilmember] Erika Strassburger is making this city cleaner and greener with her plastic bag ban and she also legislated new housing protection for renters who are struggling to free themselves from domestic violence.

“[District 6 Councilmember] Daniel Lavelle works closely with the administration and the [Urban Redevelopment Authority] to realize his innovative vision for how the city can make its own long-term investment in the affordable housing that we so desperately need.

“And [outgoing council president from District 2] Theresa Kail-Smith, you have overseen it all as our fearless council president. You have guided us and you always make sure that every I is dotted and every T is crossed.”

She thanked city departments for the work they do and community groups, citizens and local activists who bring ideas about how to make the city a better place to live.

“Never stop coming to testify. Never stop calling with good ideas for legislation because we need you. We need you and your expertise as we figure out how to grow and connect this city and make it livable for everyone, not just people making $100K+ a year,” she said.

And she thanked the workers in her office.

“You guys, it is going to be an exciting four years and I am just so honored and grateful that you have given me a chance to be a part of it all.”

For a big city, the ceremony had a small-town feel with a sense of torches passing from one generation to the next, such as in District 3, which includes the South Side Flats and Slopes, part of Oakland and some of the South Side Hilltop communities such as Beltzhoover, Arlington and Arlington Heights and Allentown.

The district had been represented by Bruce Kraus, 69, who served for 16 years. Mr. Kraus used to be sworn in by Judge Eugene Riccardi, the District Magistrate for the South Side.

Robert Charland, who was Kraus’ chief of staff before running unopposed for the office, was not sworn in by Eugene Riccardi. Instead, Riccardi’s daughter, Nina, who was elected to her father’s former post, administered the oath of office. Mr. Charland, in his remarks to council, noted that his district is now represented by himself on council, Ms. Riccardi as a district justice and Jessica Benham as the State Representative, who are all age 35 or younger.

The new council’s first action was to choose Mr. Lavelle as its president, which the members did unanimously.

He took the gavel and appointed each of the members to chair a committee.

He appointed Ms. Strassburger to chair finance and law; Ms. Warwick will be chair of public works and infrastructure; Mr. Coghill will chair public safety and wellness; Mr. Charland will be chair of human resources; Mr. Wilson will chair land use and economic development, Ms. Kail-Smith will chair recreation, youth and senior services; Ms. Gross will chair innovation, performance, asset management and technology; and Mr. Mosley will chair intergovernmental and educational affairs.

This article originally appeared in Print, the community newspaper serving the East End. It is shared with permission through the Pittsburgh Community Newspaper Network. It has been edited lightly for length and style.

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