Election 2017

Anthony Coghill defeats Ashleigh Deemer in District 4 Democratic primary race

The ward chair and roofer defeated Natalia Rudiak’s chief of staff after a contentious battle — his fourth shot at the seat.

Kelli Coghill with her father Anthony Coghill and supporter Rita Tole, 90, of 

Kelli Coghill with her father Anthony Coghill and supporter Rita Tole, 90, of Brookline.

Jasmine Goldband
Sarah Anne Hughes

Update, 10:05 p.m.

After a contentious race, Anthony Coghill emerged the victorious Democrat in the race for Pittsburgh City Council’s District 4 seat with more than 50 percent of the vote.

He defeated current council member Natalia Rudiak’s Chief of Staff Ashleigh Deemer, whom he had accused of pay-to-play politics for accepting donations from a developer who owns property in the district. Rudiak did not run for a third term.

“First and foremost, I want to commend Ashleigh Deemer and her campaign. I have nothing but respect and gratitude for the work she has done for our District,” Coghill said in a statement after his win. “With that said, I am elated and humbled by tonight’s results. My team and I knocked on thousands of doors during this campaign, talking to many community members along the way. I am proud to call these citizens my friends, and I am proud to call this district my home. I look forward to representing all of our neighbors in City Council District 4.”

Coghill ran on a platform of Back to Basics, claiming Rudiak’s office hasn’t been responsive to constituent concerns about public works and public safety. “I think some of the basic services have been neglected,” he told The Incline in March.

“My biggest issues are, let’s make sure that we make this a livable city that it’s claimed to be,” Coghill said outside his campaign office after claiming victory. “I think Pittsburgh’s a great place. I want to promote our district. I’m a big cheerleader for our district.”

Ashleigh Deemer's supporters gathered at The Moonlite on Tuesday night.

Ashleigh Deemer's supporters gathered at The Moonlite on Tuesday night.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

“I am sad to say we didn’t get the result we wanted today. I’m really sad. I think we put together the best damn coalition we could have asked for,” Deemer said to her supporters at The Moonlite with 92 percent of precincts reporting. “I couldn’t have asked for a better campaign. … Today wasn’t our day. The fight isn’t done.”

In November, Coghill is expected to face Republican Cletus Abate, an Allegheny County GOP volunteer who opposed a policy allowing trans Pittsburgh Public Schools students to use the bathroom of their choosing. If he wins, Coghill plans to continue running his roofing business while serving as a council member, he said at a forum in Homewood last week.

“I will not take my opponent lightly in the fall. We have a lot of work to do. For now, we’ll take a break and relax a bit,” Coghill said of Abate.

As The Pittsburgh Comet Editor Bram Reichbaum noted in his endorsement of Bill Peduto, Deemer’s defeat could be bad news for the mayor’s progressive bloc on council. Coghill has spoken against Pittsburgh becoming a sanctuary city, for fear of losing federal funding, and said he opposes raises the realty transfer tax to fund an affordable housing trust fund.

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