Speech given by Bruce Kraus, Pittsburgh's first openly gay City Councilmember, upon his swearing in on January 7, 2008.
“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”
The recorded journals, safely housed within our City Clerks’ office, are filled with the transcripts of thousands of past Council sessions, and tell the story of the challenges and opportunities we have faced in our 250 year history.
But, through these difficult times, and because of the strength and character of the people of this great City, our resiliency in the face of adversity, and by the grace of God, we are here, today, to begin recording the journal of this new Council. One which will tell our story of the challenges we will face, the opportunities we will seize and the celebrations of our strengths and accomplishments, as we set
The stories we tell speak of the journeys we take. And as it is with many of life’s journeys, ours was one shared by friends and loved ones alike, too numerous to mention by name, and yet in your hearts, you know who you are. Your love, unwavering support and unshakable belief in me, now brings us to this final step of our first journey together, and onward to the first step of a new and exciting adventure, full of the hope and promise of everything that can be. Without you, I would not be standing here today, and so from the deepest parts of my heart, I say “Thank You.” You have entrusted me to be your voice and to carry your cause. For that, I am genuinely humbled. I pledge to use this confidence you have placed in me, to help lead this great city of ours into the future, with integrity, grace and compassion.
Once in a lifetime, a great leader comes along, whose courage and moral compass will not allow them to stand idly by, while fear and prejudice remove thousands of American citizens from having a voice, in our democratic process. Such a man was, City of San Francisco Board Supervisor, Harvey Milk, who on November 27, 1978, paid the price with his life, so that one day, some 30 years later, ones orientation would no longer be a factor in determining their ability to serve as an elected official. And so today, I honor his memory and I thank him for his courageous and selfless sacrifice that cleared the way for so many of us.
And now, how will we, this new council, answer our call to action?
It is my belief, that our greatest strength and most valuable resource is our diversity.
So with all of these resources at hand, what will we choose to make the signature achievements of this new council, now so full of promise and endless possibility? What will history record about the time we will serve the people of this great city?
My hope is that we would work to provide an open, transparent and public process that reestablishes trust and confidence in government. That we could envision for our future, a city where even the most vulnerable among us are safe and well provided for. A city that sets the standard, for what a clean city can be. One where parks and recreation facilities flourish, and our commitment, to leading the nation in Green building, and responsible management of our natural resources, is stronger than ever. Where our children attend first-rate schools and have every opportunity for the very best education possible; whose futures are financially secure, because we have been responsible stewards of the people’s money.
I see a city where every neighborhood will see the fruits of real economic development, and with it, have access to living wage jobs that will sustain home ownership and provide for young families.
But mostly, my hope is for a city, where all people are invited to our great common table, to share in an equal voice and have every opportunity to participate in, the stewardship of their futures, and have access to every resource that will lift them and their loved ones up, to their very highest quality of life.
And so, once again, I will find my voice within words, so eloquently spoken, by Robert Kennedy and put forward this challenge to us, this new council of the City of
“Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say, why not.”