Q&A With Bethani Cameron, Candidate for City Council District 4

Bethani Cameron

Let’s re-imagine public safety with a heavy emphasis on mental health and substance use response teams who have many years of school to understand how to evaluate and de-escalate, and how to encourage ongoing treatment for those who need it. 

We make police do this now. It doesn’t work. We will have more and more tense and potentially tragic situations if we keep using the wrong tool for the job. 

This is the fourth post of our election season series ‘Political Q&A’ with progressive candidates throughout Pennsylvania. Candidates can be anywhere in Pennsylvania running for any level of office. Please note that these are not necessarily endorsements, more of an opportunity for candidates to connect with the LGBTQ community, progressives neighbors, and others with an interest in Western Pennsylvania. If your candidate would like to participate, please contact us pghlesbian at gmail dot com.

I am so pleased to see an openly bisexual woman running for City Council. After Bruce Kraus smashed that ceiling of gay representation, we need to see momentum. I’ve interacted with her on multiple projects over the years and anticipated good things from this ambitious, intelligent, and thoughtful woman. It was a genuine pleasure to read her responses and I look forward to seeing what she brings to the campaign trail.

Your Name: Bethani Cameron
Your Pronouns: she/her
The Office You Seek: Pittsburgh City Council, District 4

City Council District 4
City Council District 4 map

How do you describe your identity? Bisexual, cisgender woman

Please tell us about an underappreciated or little known asset in your district. Too tough to choose between the food and the incredible youth programming being developed by Brookline Teen Outreach and the Hear Corp’s 25 Carrick Avenue project, teaching local kids sound engineering skills that can create a pathway to an excellent career without having to go to college. The Brashear GSA is an incredible resource for so many teens to access support and camaraderie!

We also have the best pita (maybe anywhere in the word?) at PitaLand in Brookline, we have not one but two Las Palmas taco stands (Beechview and Brookline), and next time you’re in Carrick hit up one of our Nepali restaurants or grocery stores!


I want to use some of the city’s vast holdings of land and structures to create permanently affordable housing (especially at the lower end of Area Median Income, 25-30%) centered near transit options. When we think about keeping Pittsburghers home, we also must allow folx to move freely around the area so they can stick to what’s important in their lives.


Tell us about the first LGBTQ person you met and what impact they had on your life?  In high school in the 1990s, I met and made my first LGBTQ friends. This was during an era where using the term “gay” as an insult was acceptable in mainstream culture. I began learning what a hostile environment the world is for the community. Which backed up what I was taught by fundamentalist Christian parents: LGBTQ is somehow bad or not real or not acceptable. I wonder why it took me so long to come out!

The first person I met who showed me how life in the queer community actually was; loving, kind, generous, seeking connections, intentional fun-having, hired me to my first ever career. I was not out before I met Cole Lea, but with her guidance, friendship, and her leadership both in the workplace and the community, I became aware of an extended family I never knew I had. And that family helped me both understand myself and created the environments that made me feel supported enough to be myself. I owe her a debt I cannot repay, because being honest and open is priceless.

Please tell me about your familiarity with the LGBTQ community in your district and the region. 
I have been honored to know some incredible local artists and activists from the LGBTQ community, and was transformed by volunteering at shows like Steel Queer n’At many years ago. These days, I am endlessly inspired by the work of SisTers, PGH, providing support and housing for our trans family, lobbying for the human rights of incarcerated trans siblings, and speaking out against the murder of trans women here and all over the nation. While I am encouraged that the city has passed protections for workers, the state offers no such protection. We have much work to do.

In my district, we have a rapidly growing population of LGBTQ folx! I would love to work to create resources and programming for our community south of the city, and I know several other neighbors who want the same investment.

Based on this, what do you understand to be our top LGBTQ concerns and priorities for City Council?  Protecting lives of trans siblings, expanding the right to hold a job without discrimination or fear of being fired, creating connections between organizations working on the issues and those in communities like mine so we can work to create even resources city-wide.

How does intersectionality inform your work? If we want to solve real problems, we are going to need to understand them first. The only way to appraise our reality and lived experiences is by examining who has carried the extra weight of society, and for how long. We keep ignoring intersectionality at our own peril. Our population continues to decrease, because Black, brown, and indigenous Pittsburghers are being priced out of this “livable” city, a continuation of the Lower Hill and East Liberty diasporas. Without a truly representative set of leaders, we will never make this city livable for all. We are shooting ourselves in the foot for excluding women, Black, brown, and indigenous Pittsburgh from political, academic, and corporate leadership. And we’ve been doing so for more than two centuries. If we want to solve problems, we need all perspectives at the table so we can resolve all the problems.

We should have done this work long ago, but the second best time to do this work is now.

Please identify areas where Pittsburgh municipal code and regulations have an impact on LGBTQ lives, perhaps without us even realizing it. Health Department restaurant guidelines on bathrooms! Did you know they are mandated to use the binary gender restrooms to stay open?? We need to change this ridiculous notion AND we need to add accessibility as a requirement to operate.

The threats of ‘religious liberty’ laws and exemptions target both LGBTQ rights and women’s rights. How does a City Council navigate this equivalency of personal religious freedom with systemic oppression and control of underserved people? We all have freedom of religion, we can believe whatever our heart desires. But that ends when someone else’s rights are at issue.

The judgement of one group of other groups cannot interfere with anybody’s human rights. Politicians should note get to dictate who gets what healthcare based on their own personal comfort levels.

We separate church from state for excellent reasons. And we should continue and expand that tradition proudly instead of allowing our rights to be chipped away state by state and fought over in increasingly conservative courts. The people need to take our power back from extremists and focus on what’s best for the most people.

What are your plans to address affordable housing? I want to use some of the city’s vast holdings of land and structures to create permanently affordable housing (especially at the lower end of Area Median Income, 25-30%) centered near transit options. When we think about keeping Pittsburghers home, we also must allow folx to move freely around the area so they can stick to what’s important in their lives.

One of my first experiences of Pgh City Council was liveblogging a public hearing on domestic violence allegations and public servants in 2007. Fourteen years later, we are still struggling with this issue and allegations of abuse by public servants of all orientations at all levels of government. How can City Council be more proactive in creating a culture that’s safe and free of harassment & abuse for City employees and the public? 

A zero tolerance policy and deferring to independent bodies to investigate to control for bias and cronyism.

What do you believe will be the long-term impacts of the pandemic and COVID-19 in Pittsburgh? How can City Council act to protect residents? We won’t see as much revenue, and we will all be dealing with post-covid feelings. If we want to achieve a climate of healing as a community from this collective trauma, then let’s make a space for reconciliation on more than just this pandemic. Let’s re-imagine public safety with a heavy emphasis on mental health and substance use response teams who have many years of school to understand how to evaluate and de-escalate, and how to encourage ongoing treatment for those who need it.

We make police do this now. It doesn’t work. We will have more and more tense and potentially tragic situations if we keep using the wrong tool for the job.

Additionally, so many folks are struggling financially and otherwise that we need to work hard to understand the most pressing issues AND the opportunities to create foundations solving those problems long-term. Bottom line: we can’t predict how recovering from all of this will work, but we can plan and we can prepare for some of what we know are the biggest needs, and work with those most impacted to fill gaps and make sure we all have a shot to land back on our feet.

You mention animal welfare on your website. Do you support redirecting Animal Care & Control resources from euthanizing healthy groundhogs and raccoons to educating the public about coexisting with urban
wildlife and perhaps TNVR? YES! In fact I had that very conversation with some amazing advocates. Animal control officers have the job of picking up animals trapped for no legitimate reason, sometimes in traps lent to them by the city itself, driving them back to their facility, euthanizing the animal, and going back to do it all over again. This creates a morbidly awful work environment and does not solve any problems. It just costs taxpayer dollars to kill animals that do not need to be harmed, while depleting and depressing a department’s workforce. It’s long past time to knock off this ridiculous practice.


Politicians should note get to dictate who gets what healthcare based on their own personal comfort levels.


Tell me about your endorsements and supporters. Thus far we have been endorsed by Steel City Stonewall Dems, Run For Something, Young Democrats of Allegheny County, the Sunrise Foundation, and one that will be made public tomorrow!

Is there anything you’d like to add? I’d be honored to work to make Pittsburgh livable for all of us.

Where can readers find your campaign on social media? How can they donate to your campaign?
https://www.facebook.com/bethaniforcitycouncil
https://twitter.com/BethaniCameron
https://instagram.com/bethaniforcitycouncil
Donate and be one of the friends-of-bethani-cameron-1!

Thank you, Bethani.


Other Q&A’s in this election cycle series. You can read previous cycle Q&A’s here.

Q&A With Bill Peduto, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh

Q&A With Ed Gainey, Candidate for Mayor City of Pittsburgh

Q&A With Raymond Robinson, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge 05-02-42

Bethani Cameron

**********************************************

This blog proudly built by snowflakes, social justice warriors, and the politically correct. Steel_City_Snowflakes

Join the Steel City Snowflakes with a one time or recurring investment in our projects.  Click the image  to see our current snowflakes.

Follow us on Twitter @Pghlesbian24

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.