What We Can Do Together
Restore election integrity and civility to local government
Allegheny County Council has two at-large seats. One of the most critical responsibilities of a county councilperson at-large is that they are in charge of certifying election results.
In 2021, our nation’s capitol was under attack undermining the very bedrock of democratic principles that make the United States an example of principled transition of power. This election cycle, my opponent made the very dangerous and irresponsible decision to vote not to certify the election results lending legitimacy to the false claims that the election results in Allegheny County were in doubt.
Step 1: A public promise to certify the 2024 election
As County Councilwoman At -Large, I will vote to uphold our democracy every single time. I will not make back door deals with republican council people that give power to election deniers. And most importantly, I will be honest and civil with all elected officials because what matters is making progress, not stifling progress for headlines.
Step 2: Responsibly leveraging the County Council at-large platform
As a local elected official, you have the opportunity to bring light to issues and use your voice. However, this can be dangerous when used by the wrong people. Public service is about serving. It is not about using social media to paint lies in an attempt to win favor and create a ‘common enemy’ that creates an “us versus them” bipartisan environment. Characters that abuse the power of the political office in this manner are dangerous. When elected, I, unlike my opponent, will responsibly leverage the platform to bring light to issues that impact all county taxpayers in a respectful, collaborative way that gets results.
Step 3: Leading by example to inspire all children of Allegheny County
As a mother, I know our children watch us as examples. We cannot be bullies in government and then tell our children to be kind. The examples set by our elected leaders matter, especially in the age of social-media. No matter who our County Executive is, I will collaborate with them while ensuring respectful and open debate and dialogue. The reality is that the county executive is the most powerful elected official in our region and if you can’t work with this leader, you can’t make progress.
Fight for clean, safe and vibrant neighborhoods and parks
Every human deserves to live in a place that is safe, clean and vibrant. The unhoused population has been stigmatized for too long. They are among our most vulnerable residents and it is the government’s duty to protect them. Enabling the unhoused to live outside, in unsafe conditions where they are often victimized as they struggle with mental health and interrelated substance use disorders is not progressive.
What is progressive is leading on solutions that protect the unhoused and ensure the center of our region – Downtown Pittsburgh – is a safe and vibrant place to work, shop, live and play. What is progressive is listening to all constituents, including working moms and dads and small business owners, who are seeing their life’s savings and dreams disappear as our region’s economic corridor becomes synonymous with crime and blight.
It’s time to help the unhoused, support our small business owners, nurture our corporate community and clean up Downtown. Doven doesn’t believe in all-or-nothing policies; she will lead with plans rooted in the reality of what is happening to everyday taxpayers to tackle issues like this head-on:
Step 1: Expand Allegheny County’s health and human services programs
Currently, the county is contracting with service providers like AHN and Mercy Behavioral Health, to give the unhoused women and men mental health supports, health screenings and identify intake paths to get them off of the streets and into safe shelter. But, we can and must do more. The pandemic has created a mental health crisis that is only getting started and our county must be overprepared to tackle this issue head-on. County Councilors must collaborate with the county executive and state-elected leaders to lobby for more state and federal funding to address critical housing needs.
Step 2: Launch a Safe Shelter Taskforce
Collaboration among taxpayer-funded programs is the key to solving this problem, and a task force can provide that alignment. The Allegheny County Housing Authority plays a significant role in transitioning unhoused people and families to safe and predictable shelter. A task force that includes the city’s housing authority and contracted services providers must be established. This task force will know and identify in real-time the demand for housing and track the available supply in transitional and subsidized housing. Every unhoused person should have a safe place to go while long-term placement plans are developed. But we need to have a clear view of the problem in order to advocate, lobby, and receive more funding for these services.
Step 3: Aid in a ‘No Tolerance’ Aggressive Panhandling Policy
Too many workers and families no longer feel safe and secure going downtown to work or enjoy a play. If aggressive panhandling, unhoused encampments, trash and debris are tolerated in our business corridor, criminals will assume that crime is also allowed. Taxpayers pay for County and Pittsburgh Regional Transit police, who can assist the City police to enforce a no tolerance policy for aggressive panhandling. But the City must come to the table. Doven’s experience in City government includes working collaboratively with Pittsburgh City Council and serving on Mayor Gainey’s inauguration committee. Doven will identify solutions and be a consensus builder for the benefit of county taxpayers.
“The facts are that most downtown workers live outside of the city, in Allegheny County, and do not feel safe. Downtown is the center of the county and county taxpayers should have a seat at the table when it comes to ensuring their safety is top of mind.” – Joanna Doven
Connect our community members to well-paying job opportunities
The pandemic shook the American workforce to its core as employers recalibrated workforce strategies and workers’ mental health, exacerbated by isolation, destabilized our economy. As of November 2021, 4.53 million Americans quit their jobs. Today, there are approximately 24,000 jobs available in Allegheny County. With Allegheny County’s rich labor history, there’s no reason why county leadership can’t advance our region to become the nation’s epicenter for family-sustaining green jobs. From vocational training at career and technical schools to apprenticeships at our building trades and tech centers – people of all ages and ethnicities should easily connect to training opportunities that give them well-paying, family-sustaining jobs with safe, accessible, and affordable housing and public transportation.
While Doven’s opponent doesn’t focus on the root causes of home affordability or incarceration, Doven believes that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide every individual with clear and inclusive job pathways.
Step 1: Advance a more robust, equitable, and sustainable workforce development ecosystem
Allegheny County funds millions to Partner4Work, the region’s workforce development nonprofit, which has a budget of $25 million. As the needs of businesses and job seekers rapidly change in today’s post-Covid landscape, County Council must advocate for increased workforce development initiatives that reach all communities equitably. The current and future needs of job seekers and employers have changed and the region’s jobs’ connector must be fiercely supported as they adapt to changing times.
“To be competitive in a post-Covid economy, our region must ensure all residents have access to expansive career opportunities and all businesses have access to a well-trained workforce.” – Joanna Doven
Step 2: Create a ‘Green Jobs Community Connector’ appointment in the County’s new department of sustainability
In collaboration with Partner4Work, funds should be dedicated to supporting transition-aged youths to have access to work-based learning opportunities that lead to employment, including apprenticeships with labor unions and local employers retrofitting buildings to be more sustainable. The Inflation Reduction Act includes incentives that will lead to greener buildings and homes, but workers are needed now to help us all fight climate change and transition us to a green economy.
Step 3: Increase access to career services in the county’s most at-risk communities
Simply put, where you live shouldn’t dictate life outcomes.
Drawing on Allegheny County’s Community Needs Index, we must identify and strengthen our career services presence in communities with the highest rates of poverty to eliminate barriers to entering the workforce
With a goal of increasing accessibility to higher paying jobs for black, brown, female, and other underrepresented youth, we must fund workforce development initiatives that prioritize career pathways for the most historically underrepresented residents.
Bring mental health and affordable living to our communities
Nothing makes living more unaffordable than residents being displaced from their jobs due to mental health and directly related substance use disorders.
Our nation is experiencing a substance use disorder crisis and the county’s human services providers must rethink their role in connecting people with treatment plans that address mental health and addiction together.
Step 1: Establish a ‘Recovery Tracker’ public tool within the county’s health and human services department
Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services is the epicenter for providing mental and physical health services for the county’s nearly 2 million residents. Approximately 83% of addiction patients struggle with substance use and a mental health disorder, but less than 10% get treatment for both. In addition, a federal government panel recently suggested that all adults under the age of 65 be screened for anxiety disorders and depression, as mental-health conditions following the height of the pandemic soar.
Allegheny County contracts with treatment providers for millions in funding annually. The quality and capabilities of the treatment centers matters and government funding should be tied to mandates that effective mental health treatments are provided in tandem with substance use disorder programs.
A Recovery Tracker will ensure residents and family members who are searching for the best treatment for their loved ones have transparent access to public reporting of all county-funded treatment centers. In addition, there must be transparent real-time assessments related to the capacity of treatment centers and transitional housing.
Step 2: Increase collaboration between county detectives and local law enforcement entities to get fentanyl off of our streets.
Mental health realities combined with more highly addictive opioids are leading to record increases in addiction and overdose fatalities everywhere.
The fentanyl being peddled today by criminals is deadly. Fentanyl is in nearly every drug on the street and often, citizens have no idea until it is too late. The problem is that fentanyl is 100X more addictive than the commonly prescribed opioids and physical addiction is immediate.
Allegheny County must address the overdose crisis head-on by getting to the roots of the problem: easy availability of fentanyl and lack of mental health services. We must support Allegheny County’s public safety agencies to increase collaboration with the municipal police departments and aggressively arrest drug peddlers that are destroying lives, families, and communities.
Step 3: Increase transitional living pathways so that those in recovery stay housed safely
About 85% percent of individuals relapse within a year of treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Moreover, about two-thirds of individuals return to drug use within weeks of beginning treatment. Often this is because there’s a lack of transitional living pathways that keep those in recovery working a program and not worrying about where they will lay their heads at night.
Residents battling substance use disorders should not be ostracized and forced to treat their condition without aid.
“Every person, regardless of their diagnosis, has the right to recover with dignity – and the county has the power of the purse to ensure they are funding agencies that address mental health alongside addiction.” – Joanna Doven