City Council approves Gainey’s picks for infrastructure commission

A commission to steer how Pittsburgh invests in infrastructure is beginning to take shape. City Council approved a dozen nominees to the Commission on Infrastructure Asset Reporting and Investment Tuesday. But one of Mayor Ed Gainey’s previous nominations was left behind in the process.

Council members declined to take up the commission appointments last week, citing a desire for more time to vet the mayor’s picks. Some council members were more frank, expressing concern about the nomination of Carrie DelRosso, a former Republican state representative who ran for lieutenant governor alongside Doug Mastriano in last year’s Pennsylvania gubernatorial race.

Originally, the Gainey administration said DelRosso’s appointment illustrated their commitment to bipartisanship on infrastructure investment. But the mayor rescinded her nomination late last week.

Gainey spokesperson Maria Montaño said the revocation came after concerns were raised about DelRosso’s political career by council members and people from the community. Montaño said the controversial nominee could have created a “distraction” from the commission’s goal to find and pursue infrastructure projects in Pittsburgh.

“[We] did not want that to be a point of contention as we put this important commission to work,” she said. “It’s really a matter of us being able to focus on the goal at hand, which is doing what we need to do to secure funding for our city bridges.”

During her time in office, DelRosso co-sponsored legislation to ban colleges from allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports that align with their gender identity. Councilor Barb Warwick cited that measure — which was ultimately vetoed by then-Gov. Tom Wolf — as the basis of her concern about DelRosso’s inclusion on the commission.

“I think we make choices as political leaders about who we’re going to be and what we’re going to say,” Warwick said last week. “The message that we want to present … filters down into everything we do.”

DelRosso did not respond to a request for comment. Her spot on the commission was filled by Andy Waple, the deputy executive director of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

Council approved 11 other nominees Tuesday that included representatives of several labor groups, such as the Laborers Union — some of whose members work for the city and whose leadership has been closely tied to Gainey in the past — and the International Union of Operating Engineers. Other nominees included staff from the city departments of Mobility and Infrastructure, as well as Management and Budget.

The appointments come more than a year after the commission was created.

The Commission on Infrastructure Asset Reporting and Investment was established in March 2022 as the city looked for ways to prevent another incident like the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse earlier that year. The group is supported to be made up of 21 members with representation from council, the mayor’s office, several city departments and some trade union and diversity groups.

The legislation that created the commission requires the city to appoint four members from groups that advocate for diversity. It requires representation from the National Society of Black Engineers; the A. Philip Randolph Institute; the Southwestern Pennsylvania Engineering Outreach; and the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania.

Gainey’s first round of nominees includes Doris Carson Williams, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce. Spots remain open for representatives from the other groups.

Gainey also nominated Lisa Frank, the city’s chief operating and administrative officer, and City Councilor Erika Strassburger.

Despite DelRosso no longer playing a role in the commission, Montaño said the Gainey administration will prioritize bipartisanship as the commission moves forward in seeking funding from Harrisburg for city infrastructure investment.

“We’ll continue to identify opportunities to work collaboratively with all who wish to improve the built environment in our city,” she said.

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