Ravenstahl’s absence shows lack of concern

Credit: Jessica Thurston/Art Editor Credit: Jessica Thurston/Art Editor

In the past eight days, incumbent mayor and mayoral candidate Luke Ravenstahl has bailed on events organized by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon in which he could have reached out to local university students just days before he runs for reelection.

On Sunday, Oct. 25, Ravenstahl did not show up for a planned debate with the two other candidates, Franco Dok Harris and Kevin Acklin. Later in the week, Ravenstahl pulled out of a forum organized by Carnegie Mellon Student Body President Rotimi Abimbola, saying he never committed to attending.

It seems like Ravenstahl is suggesting that he will attend these planned forums to the point of exciting those who are planning on attending his forums or lectures, perhaps thinking that awareness of his presence in the race alone should be enough to secure their votes. In both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon instances, Ravenstahl’s campaign manager, Paul McKrell, claimed the mayor never completely confirmed that he would attend either event. In the case of Ravenstahl’s absence at the University of Pittsburgh, committee member Whitney McNamara even said she had been in contact with the Ravenstahl campaign a few days before the scheduled forum and that he had not cancelled — indicating the mayor still planned to be there.

Issuing dubious statements like the Carnegie Mellon event had “never been confirmed,” as McKrell argues, rather than firmly committing or skipping out on an event for precise reasons, indicates that Ravenstahl might be just as flaky if reelected as mayor. It is primarily the responsibility of the candidates to make their platforms available and their presences felt by the citizens who will be voting for them. When students at the two most prominent universities in the city reach out to the candidates and organize forums for the candidates to speak — and not even have to debate, in the event organized by Carnegie Mellon — it is embarrassing for both sides for the candidates to not even show up.

Pittsburgh is on the brink of coming back. We have robots, we have medicine, and we have education. Citizens are excited, and grassroots movements are happening around the city — which Ravenstahl should have been witnessing in his current term as mayor. Shouldn’t the mayoral candidates — especially the incumbent — be as excited as the citizens they are theoretically hoping to represent?

We hope Ravenstahl will step it up in his final day of campaigning before tomorrow’s election. The people of Pittsburgh deserve a representative who can communicate with them, and be open to criticism or questions about his campaign and actions.