After weeks of speculation, Doug Shields has announced he's not running for mayor. A short time ago, he sent out the following statement:
"With the encouragement and support of many people, I have seriously considered running for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. At this time, the right choice for me, for this Council, and for the people of Pittsburgh is to continue to serve as Council President.
"City Council's positive image and strong record of accomplishment is very gratifying to me. Leadership means being willing to serve the bigger picture over personal ambition. In these difficult economic times, we have serious financial and governance issues to work through. As we face these many challenges, I believe that leading Council is how I can best serve the city.
"What the citizens in Pittsburgh most need is a productive common agenda, not a divisive political campaign. I pledge to continue working in the best interests of the people who elected me."
There was word late last week that Shields would be formally announcing his non-campaign. Even so, this statement was a bit surprising -- and not just because it asserts that city council has a "positive image." (It does? Oh good.) We here at City Paper got word of Shields speaking openly of his mayoral ambitions, including to at least one classroom full of students. But Shields -- whose own self-description provided the headline for this post -- seems almost to delight in suddenly reversing the field.
What happens now? I doubt we'll get a ready answer from him quite yet, but if Patrick Dowd wants to run -- as many of us have also long expected him to do -- the field just got a lot more open.