A fifteen-minute "convention style" biographical video introduced Acklin as the progeny of South Oakland fire fighters, public workers and nurses; as a Central Catholic student-athlete who in football played both offensive and defensive tackle, and in ice hockey also played like a tackle; and as an attorney who ran off to pursue a big job in Boston only to grow homesick for Pittsburgh, return eventually and start a nonprofit dedicated to executing odd but difficult jobs for local communities.
It was this work with Renew Pittsburgh that formed the foundation of his public service bona-fides. Community leaders testified during the video of Acklin's refreshing generosity with his time and energy and his willingness to "get his hands dirty". Paul Ellis -- the serious and self-reserved sibling of Dr. Kimberly Ellis AKA Dr. Goddess -- spoke highly of Acklin's determination to help restore the area around the historic August Wilson home.
During his speech, Acklin promised to work hard as Mayor and to demand excellence.
I'll make decisions based not on what's best for my administration, but on what's best for all of our neighborhoods. I'll create policies based not on what's best for a few donors and dignitaries, but what's best for all our citizens. I'll support legislation that helps not just the powerful and the politically connected, but the powerless and the politically forgotten.
In an interview with the Comet, Acklin identified his biggest adversaries in the coming race as fear and complacency -- fear regarding political blowback for supporting him, and complacency over the fact that the City is "getting it done good enough", a sentiment he described as "kind of un-Pittsburgh".
When asked what are the two greatest challenges awaiting him as mayor, Acklin first said that Pittsburgh "needs to become more competitive -- how do we grow?" He listed factors inhibiting Pittsburgh's growth as its schools, its "perception of unsafety", and its high taxes. He also grumbled over the ability of businesspeople to get their permits processed correctly "if they don't make out checks to the right people."
When asked a follow-up about crime and public safety, he clarified that his second biggest challenge would be "our neighborhoods", and finding a way to reinvest in their smaller business districts. He says there are 88 neighborhoods in the City of Pittsburgh and there are 88 separate plans -- and that cynics might observe this is a way to play neighborhoods off each other.
"You need to invest in City Planning; it's been gutted."
Regarding politics, Acklin declared during his speech that he would like to join forces with all the people "that liked Bill, and Mark, and Patrick and Carmen". During our interview he said that he didn't think Democratic primary rival Patrick Dowd went too negative during his campaign.
"On election night, the Mayor had an opportunity to be a Mayor -- and he didn't."
Acklin called this an "exciting" time to run for government office in Pittsburgh, with encouraging faces arriving on the scene like Natalia Rudiak, "Who I supported fairly heavily", and Daniel Lavelle, "who I didn't have the opportunity to support financially" but sounded enthused about.
When asked about the other independent candidate likely to run, Franco "Dok" Harris, Acklin pointed out, "I am the Independent," having collected his ballot signatures and filed as the Independent candidate already.
"I mean, that's state law," he clarified. "He'd have to run as, you know, the Immaculate Reception whatever kind of party."