The election is just days away, and if you’re like most people, you’re still days away from finding out who most of the candidates are.
“It’s a slog,” you say. “It’s too much work.” “I’ll just intuit whether they’re the right candidate for me by staring intently at their names on the ballot.”
No need to strain your powers of perception, though. We’re here to help.
What follows is our Procrastinator’s Guide to Allegheny County’s Tuesday, Nov. 7 Municipal Election, the latest in a series of similar guides aimed at helping you carry out your civic duty with confidence and a lesser degree of guesswork.
First, the basics:
- Make sure you’re registered by checking here. (Note: It’s way too late to register now, but there’s always next year.)
- Double check your polling place, and take note of your ward and district number. Why? Because you’ll need that info to check out a sample ballot, by far the simplest way to find out which of the races below you’ll be voting in.
So let’s start with one race all Pittsburghers will be voting in: a bout with one candidate and arguably one foreseeable outcome.
Mayor of Pittsburgh
Any questions you may have about the lack of choices in the mayoral race can be answered here and further explained by Pittsburgh’s Democratic bent and the somewhat inverted primary/municipal election process that results. TL;DR: Pittsburgh is full of Democrats who already decided the mayoral race back in May.
Bill Peduto (Democrat) | Website
Bio in 140 characters or less: Incumbent. Lorax-like on enviro issues. “Pittsburgh remains a city for all.” DMs open to @amazon.
Depending on where you live, there are more choices here than in the race for mayor. To find out who they are, you’ll need to know which district you live in. You can find that information by using this map. As for the candidates…
Theresa Kail-Smith (Democrat) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Council President Pro Tempore. Mother of millennials. Incumbent. Regular meeting attendee. Your only choice, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Cletus Cibrone-Abate (Republican) | Error 404: Website not found.
Bio in 140 characters: Bathroom purist. Don’t even get her started on local politicians inserting themselves into the national dialogue.
Omitted from bio: Faced a fine for election petition violations.
Anthony Coghill (Democrat) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Back to basics. 19th Ward committee chair. District 4 lifer; graffiti and blight hater. Endorsed by Fitzgerald, Fontana and the Post-Gazette.
Want more on the only interesting council race? Read this Post-Gazette article on why neither of these candidates want council focusing on national issues and TribLive‘s look at their plans for revitalizing the district.
Robert Daniel Lavelle (Democrat) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Two-term incumbent. Affordable housing and trust fund champion. URA board member. Lives in the Hill District. Your only choice, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Dan Gilman (Democrat) | Website
Allegheny County Council
Determine your district here.
Jack Betkowski (Democrat) | Facebook page
Bio in 140 characters: Won May primary with a write-in campaign. Ross Township commissioner. Wants to put the county back in County Council.
Tom Baker (Republican) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Incumbent. Won first term on county council in 2013. Agrees with his opponent that combating the opioid crisis should be a top priority.
Anita Prizio (Democrat) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: More lead testing. Sanders Delegate at 2017 DNC. Endorsed by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Edward J. Kress (Republican) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Incumbent. Voted against county’s toddler lead-testing ordinance: “should be left to the doctor and the parent.” Government mandates = BAD.
Any drama? Some, yes.
Patrick J. Catena, Jr. (Democrat) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Ex-Carnegie councilman. Appointed to County Council in January. Running to retain the seat. Voted for vaping ban / mandatory lead testing.
Dimitrios Pantzoulas (Republican) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Small biz owner. Pro-lifer. Wants to breakup council’s Democratic supermajority.
Any drama? A little. Pantzoulas was removed from the primary ballot by a judge because of signature-gathering rule violations, TribLive notes. But Pantzoulas earned enough signatures as a write-in candidate to appear on the fall ballot anyway.
Charles Martoni (Democrat) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: 17 years as District 8 councilman. Wants county to pay for services without raising taxes. #ExpandTheBase
Michael Dell (Republican) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Plum Borough Councilman. Fiscal conservative. County’s population isn’t growing but the budget is: ?
Bob Macey (Democrat) | Website
Omitted from bio: Ran afoul of ethics rules while sitting on council and simultaneously working for a state lawmaker in 2014, as TribLive reported. There was also that 2013 DUI. Your only choice, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Robert J. Palmosina (Democrat) | Facebook page
Bio in 140 characters: Democratic Party 20th ward chair. Collier Public Works director. Coached teams. Fired from Pittsburgh DPW then sued.
Allegheny County Sheriff
Bill Mullen (Democratic/Republican nominee) | Facebook page
Bio in 140 characters: Incumbent. From patrol officer to detective to Pittsburgh police dep. chief. Your only choice, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Pittsburgh School Board
Am I voting in this race? Only if you live in school districts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. Find out if you do using this tool.
Sylvia C. Wilson, incumbent
Terry Kennedy, incumbent
Cynthia A. Falls, incumbent
Did not respond to The Incline questionnaire | A+ Schools questionnaire
There’s a lot to cover here, from statewide races to local ones. But don’t be daunted. You got this!
Let’s start with statewide races. No matter where you live in Allegheny County, you’ll vote in the races for Pennsylvania Superior Court, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court and Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Here’s a handy breakdown of those races courtesy the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan political watchdog group.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judges
Patrick Connelly (Democratic/Republican nominee) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Believes judges should have had prior experience as trial lawyers. Has 23 years of experience as a civil litigator himself.
David Spurgeon (One of two Democratic nominees) | Facebook page
Bio in 140 characters: Appointed to fill Common Pleas vacancy in June 2016. “Sometimes, you need real people to be real judges to judge real people.”
Mary C. McGinley (Republican) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Practicing attorney of 15 years. Wants to help improve the courts from the inside out. Family is a minority owner of the Steelers.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judges
There are others locally that you should be aware of, too. But we’re focusing here on the only one that’s contested: The race for Magistrate in District 31 (East End).
Ron Costa Sr. (Democratic/Republican nominee) | Website (None needed, apparently, after 24 years in office.)
Bio in 140 characters: Incumbent. Morningside native. Endorsed by Allegheny County Dem Committee. As a judge, “You can’t change the laws that are on the book.”
Mik Pappas (Independent) | Website
Bio in 140 characters: Civil-rights attorney. Newcomer trying to unseat 24-year incumbent. Says Costa too often sides with landlords in tenant disputes.
So there you have it, a sampling of the many races to be decided Tuesday. There will also be ballot questions about amending the Homestead Property Tax Assessment Exclusion and on whether paid City of Pittsburgh employees can also be paid part-time athletic coaches. You can learn more about those initiatives here.
As always, good luck and happy balloting.
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