Mayor Ravenstahl speaks to students on campus

Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl addressed a small crowd at Carnegie Mellon University in the University Center last Wednesday.

Ravenstahl spoke to about one dozen Carnegie Mellon students and faculty. His speech focused on his commitment to his mayoral responsibilities and the advantages of his youth in relating to and keeping young professionals. The mayor cited youth as the key to Pittsburgh’s successful development.

“We [are losing] individuals like yourself,” Ravenstahl said to the college students in the crowd. His remarks highlight what some local politicians have called the Pittsburgh “brain drain,” which occurs when college graduates pack their bags and leave the Pittsburgh metro area.

At 26 years old, Ravenstahl is the youngest mayor of a major metropolitan city. He assumed the duties of the mayor’s office after the recent death of previous mayor Bob O’Connor. O’Connor died from brain cancer on September 1.
The mayor spoke briefly to the audience before heading into a question-and-answer section.

In the question-and-answer period, Ravenstahl discussed a few new projects. One student asked about the success of one such initiative, the newly created Ravenstahl Response Line, 311. The mayor’s website describes the 311 line as “a central one call system for all non-emergency city service requests.”

Ravenstahl said the average call volume for reports of non-emergency service requests were 150 per day before the response 311 line. After the launch, call volumes have increased to nearly 300 per day, an increase Ravenstahl views as an early indicator of success.

“While he showcased some accomplishments, he didn’t put them—or students—into a greater perspective,” wrote
Student Body President Karl Sjogren in an e-mail. “For example ... he failed to connect the importance [of the 311 line]—if any—to the current needs of Pittsburgh.”

One audience member asked about the mayor’s proposed Youth Advisory Committee, a group to be made up of college students. Recently, the mayor appointed a staff member to head the committee and has been pushing to form the board soon.

The advisory board will focus on and be made up of those in the 21–35 age range, considered the age range of young professionals. Ravenstahl urged Carnegie Mellon students to contact his office if they desired to give input or seek participation on the advisory board.

“I got the sense that students didn’t feel like the mayor was actively addressing their concerns, and I felt that the mayor wasn’t sure how to even create a productive exchange between college students and city hall,” Sjogren wrote.
Ravenstahl urged students to contact him with ideas and concerns.

The City of Pittsburgh website offers a section where individuals can send comments to the mayor.