Election 2019

With Gilman named Peduto’s chief of staff (again), here’s what happens to his District 8 council seat

Dinette Owner and Chef Sonja Finn and Gilman’s Chief of Staff Erika Strassburger have already announced runs for the seat.

Dan Gilman

Dan Gilman

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
colin-square-crop

Updated, 7:35 p.m.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill Peduto’s office confirmed what had been rumored for days: Councilman Dan Gilman will be his next chief of staff.

The announcement came roughly a week after current Peduto Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin announced he would resign in January to return to the private sector.

It also came weeks after Gilman was re-elected to his District 8 council seat in the November municipal election. That means a special election will now be held to fill the vacancy he’s leaving behind.

According to the mayor’s office, it will work like this:

  1. Gilman submits a letter formally resigning his council seat, at which point the vacancy becomes official.  
  2. The City Clerk then has three days to issue a writ of special election with the Allegheny County Elections Division. (A message left with the city clerk was not immediately returned Tuesday.)
  3. The City Council President then instructs the City Clerk to issue a Writ of Election. That writ sets the date of the special election and is then provided to the Elections Division.
  4. Party committee members in District 8 will nominate their candidate(s). Others can run as independents.

At least one candidate publicly declared an interest in the upcoming vacancy Tuesday. Sonja Finn, chef and owner of Dinette Restaurant, announced she’ll run for Gilman’s seat.

“I returned to Pittsburgh ten years ago and have invested my life and my family in making our community a place that lives up to the potential that is uniquely Pittsburgh,” Finn said in a statement. “I am running for City Council to ensure that my neighbors, in Oakland, Point Breeze, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill can live in a city that is defined not only by its innovation but also its courage to lead, and so that my son, Miles, will inherit a better Pittsburgh.”

Gilman’s Chief of Staff Erika Strassburger also announced she’s seeking the District 8 seat, writing in a Facebook post, “I have loved getting to know everyone who lives and works in our district, and I’m proud of what our office has accomplished, from ensuring a fair and open government, to advocating for the rights of vulnerable populations, to prioritizing clean water and a healthy environment for everyone. I am running so I can continue that work, and more, for District 8 and the city.”

Gilman endorsed Strassburger on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

Gilman served as then-Council Member Peduto’s chief of staff for nine years and took over Peduto’s District 8 council seat when he became mayor.

His appointment is not subject to City Council approval, per the city. The 2018 salary for Gilman’s new position is $111,323. A council member’s salary was $65,423 in 2017, according to TribLive. Gilman’s effective inauguration day as mayoral chief of staff is Jan. 3, 2018, the day of Peduto’s inauguration into his second mayoral term.

Dan is the perfect person to continue my and Kevin’s work the last four years to make Pittsburgh a city for all. In fact, he’s been integral to that work all along,” Peduto said in a statement issued by his office on Tuesday. “I am grateful to Dan and his family for taking this next step in his public service to the city.”

Gilman added in that same statement: “This wasn’t an easy decision, especially given the confidence District 8 residents have given me the last two elections. I pledge to take all the lessons they have taught me over the years and apply that experience to making the entire city a better place for all.”