Marita Garrett is the Mayor of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, a borough adjacent to Pittsburgh. She took office as Mayor this year, after serving on the Wilkinsburg Council as Vice President. For this month’s member profile, we asked her about her new role and her priorities in office.
Local Progress: What motivated you to run for higher office?
Marita Garrett: Similar to why I ran for office (Council in 2013), there was a need in our community for a proactive person to utilize the role and platform of Mayor. We needed someone who would advocate for resources for the Borough, in addition to bringing resources to the Borough.
LP: Tell us about Wilkinsburg – what should people know about it?
MG: Wilkinsburg’s biggest asset is our diversity and it’s not in terms of just Black and White. It’s in terms of age, race, ideals, religion, etc. We are a tight-knit, resilient community through our residents, small businesses, and other community members. We benefit from being our own municipality, yet we border the City of Pittsburgh and have easy access to their downtown and job opportunities.
LP: What are your policy priorities and other goals for 2018?
MG: Currently, I’m involved with a municipal working group where we are looking at research and best-practices to address gun violence as a public-health epidemic. Our Police Department hosted a successful gun buy back program over the Winter and we’re looking to do it again this year. Other goals include working with a local nonprofit to acquire a prominent space in the Borough, which could transform our main street, tackle the perception issue that Wilkinsburg has in our area and showcase how truly awesome our community is.
LP: When you look back on your tenure as Mayor, what do you hope to have accomplished?
MG: I hope to have inclusive economic development opportunities where long-time AND new residents both can reap the benefits. I want to see our small businesses further supported, our residents to continue as social change agents – basically, I want Wilkinsburg to be self-reliant and sustainable regardless of who’s in leadership.
LP: Why are you a member of Local Progress?
MG: I am a proud member of Local Progress, because this organization not only provides logistical and innovation practices to bring back to my community; yet it also provides an amazing network of bright thinkers, leaders, and innovators whom I continually learn from and am forever connected.