WHAT’S NEXT FOR LIV?
YES, I WAS THE BETTER CANIDATE BUT, THIS AREA WOULDN’T LET ME BE!
First, I want to say a HEARTFELT thank you to everyone that supported me in my County Council and Executive races. The support was few and far in between. I also recognize some of the backlash that came with that. Therefore, I truly appreciate the support because I know that it may have come at a cost. Huge thanks to my campaign committee and manager/best friend Fawn Walker Montgomery. The true definition of riding with someone until the wheels fall off! So, let’s get to it lol. Am sure you all have heard by now; I withdrew from both the County Executive and County Council seats. Let me explain why.
AGE OLD STORY IN ALLEGHENY COUNTY
NOT SUPPORTING BLACK WOMEN
From the start we have been honest about how under resourced our campaign for County Executive was. From money to having consistent volunteers, this was screamed from the mountain tops, and NO ONE CAME. This was both confusing and hurtful. Before y’all start yes, I know some people see politics as a game. However, I don’t look at it this way. The decisions we make are REAL. The families losing loved ones in the jail and the streets are REAL. This is not a game to me. I held value in the relationships that I built. Yes, I did expect this local progressive movement, that me and Fawn helped to build, to show up. This was especially confusing due to the 2019 Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Gender Equity Report. For anyone who needs a reminder the report showed that “Pittsburgh is arguably the most unlivable for Black women.”
How Pittsburgh Fails Black Women in 6 Charts - Bloomberg (article of reference)
(This is how it felt as people watched Fawn and I work ourselves damn near to death but, did nothing)
I distinctly recall people losing their minds and vowing to be the change to make this region less toxic for Black people, specifically Black women. Yet, only 3-4 years later these same folks are the ones who have cut a Black woman running for County Executive off at the knees. These past few months have been so discouraging as the conditions for Black people, and specifically Black women have not changed since the 2019 Gender Equity Report. Hell, these conditions have existed for Black women and people for over 50 years according to reports going back to 1965.
I am so confused when I hear messages, even from opponents, saying that we need to elect and place BIPOC women in seats of power as these folks hinder the run of a very qualified Black woman. This has been done various times locally to Black women. We do the work (consistently) and are often overlooked but, still expected to continue and do the work as well as show up with a smile.
What other candidate can speak to the first-hand experience of Black maternal health when I had to stand in the gap for my daughter every time she had a child, except for her last child. The reason I was not needed to stand in the gap for her most recent birth, is
because I was introduced to the Black Chief Nurse Resident at Magee hospital. She offered to be with my daughter through labor and delivery. But why should someone have to know one of the highest people in the hospital to keep their child from dying in childbirth? What other candidate can speak to the first-hand experience of having her then 13-year Black son stopped and frisked because he and his cousin were running (like kids do) from house to house? What other candidate stood 10 toes down when Black women have been attacked in businesses, at the hands of police, injustices in the jail occurred and with the LGBTQIA+ community?
I did all of this, and it still wasn’t enough. These are the qualities that folks claim to want when it comes to leaders but when there was an opportunity to support ya’ll were absent. This came from all sides both Black, white, and other marginalized communities. It was extremely hurtful when it came from other Black people. This ranged from the side comments to judgement. Yes, even though I didn’t acknowledge it, we heard about the comments about me living in public housing, being a teenage mom and the “we have enough Black people in office comments (referring to Ed, Summer and Austin). Folks calling my day job and lying on me and so much more. People that I helped get in these positions turned their back on me. They went with the one who they thought would get them the closest proximity to power. We can’t continue to talk about the need to put Black women and other BIPOC people into seats of power but when the opportunity comes, we don't support them. LISTEN TO BLACK WOMEN IN REAL LIFE! The people closest to the pain should be closest to the power. This is what people claim to believe but your actions showed different.
Dealing with all of this and running for two seats was of course a lot. However, we kept going. In an effort to create a more equitable County myself and a team of very few people collected over 900 signatures. Once again, Allegheny County expected Black Women Magic and damn near killed us trying to make this happen. That is what this region does to Black woman, they use us and try to kill us if we let it. I have seen this happen so many times over the years.
I wasn’t going to let it happen to me or Fawn. While I love the PEOPLE, I love myself & my family more. Fawn will be releasing her own statement so I will let her speak for herself (we all know she needs no help in that area lol). In this instance I CHOOSE ME. Just wanted to be clear that before the challenge was issued, on my County Council seat, I was already considering stepping out of the Executive race. Not because I wasn’t ready or qualified. Because the lack of support, money, and capacity. Two-six people can’t run a County wide campaign and get our message out successfully. It’s not a NEVER, it’s not right now. As I have said in the past, we did have this support set up (as we thought) but things turned out differently. The progressive movement that we helped to build didn't show up but, I digress…...
By the time we got to the day that petitions needed to be returned, we were exhausted. People who claimed they would get signatures for my County Council seat didn’t. After spending the last few days of Primary petition season getting as many signatures as possible for my County Council seat, we made a mad dash (literally) to turn them in and I forgot my purse to pay the fee. They did allow us to get money from an ATM, but this was only necessary for the County Executive race as the other seat was already paid for. This instance was oddly pointed out by a newspaper reporter who made this known in an article. My County Council opponent challenged my petitions, and we didn’t want to run the risk of losing. Furthermore, as I previously communicated, we don’t have money for lawyers to defend the challenge. Instead of taking the chance of being kicked off the ballot, we decided to withdraw our petitions to give us the opportunity to run as an Independent for my County Council seat. My team and I didn’t make this decision lightly but felt that this was the best option moving forward.
As previously mentioned, Black women being unappreciated in this county is nothing new. No, we’re not stopping. We don’t have the luxury or privilege. There are young Black girls looking up to us. My team and I have pivoted and will be focused on running for my County Council seat as an Independent in the November election. No, we haven’t forgotten about the Executive seat. One thing that was apparent on the campaign trial was the lack of conviction to speak about Black issues and the anti-blackness that exist here… or even say the word “Black.” Some of the messaging took a “All Lives Matter” establishment approach. Before throwing my support behind someone I will need to have a conversation and assure that Black people and other marginalized populations are not left behind as an after thought in this election. Additionally, my team and I will be doing some lives and appearances to continue to raise these issues while we run my re-election campaign.
My County Council seat is imperative and important to the people of the 13th district and Allegheny County. It’s one of the biggest districts in the county (around 90,000 plus people). This is why I was initially running for both seats. We have done some amazing work on County Council. From getting the police review board passed to paid sick leave. I want to continue this work and advocacy. The 13th district is rich in diversity and culture.
From the eclectic Bellevue neighborhood with its walkable shopping district to Lawrenceville that can be described the same to the Northside where national landmarks like Acrisure Stadium (Heinz Field always lol) to PNC Park to the Carnegie Science Center to Randyland. The 13th District is as unique as its people. The needs are varied and similar. From parking wars in the Mexican War Streets to Lawrenceville. I’ve been honored to represent such a diverse district. A district where I can stop to get a Gus and YaYa’s on a hot day and get some Walter’s BBQ Ribs without leaving my District. I can get good drinks and food at bars like Young Brothers and go to the Southside and eat well at Carmi’s. I hope to have your continued support as I seek re-election.
The first step is to obtain 345 plus signatures to get my name on the ballot as an Independent for County Council District 13. To achieve this, we will continue to knock on doors and hold events. We’re not stopping! This will take money and volunteers. If you want to help, please visit our website voteliv.com, and sign up.
In Solidarity and Honesty,
Liv Bennett, MPPM
County Councilwoman 13th District