Helping you fill out your ballot in the ‘Burgh

Pittsburgh is only one week away from the 2021 Primary Election on May 18, so we did our best to prepare you for filling out your ballot in the ‘Burgh. We took some time to read through reporting from local journalists and made this round-up of the most important information and links for you.

We all have the opportunity to make a difference in our communities just by educating ourselves and showing up to vote. It’s these elected officials who are responsible for our city’s priorities, the use of our tax dollars, and elements of daily life such as the quality of local schools, policing and public safety, rent and housing costs, public transit, and more.

Now let’s break down the ballot, shall we?

The big races on your ballot

🗳️ Pittsburgh is electing a mayor for another four-year term. The race comes down to long-term incumbent Bill Peduto versus state representative Ed Gainey, retired police officer Tony Moreno, and Butler County Community College math tutor Michael Thompson.

  • ➡️ Read about where each candidate stands on issues related to housing, police, environment, and who’s endorsed them at Pittsburgh City Paper’s Primary Election guide.
  • 🎨 The mayor can play a huge role in Pittsburgh’s arts and culture sector, and The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council took the time to learn about how each candidate will prioritize the arts if elected.
  • ♻️ Check out this Q-and-A by the Pittsburgh Mayoral Design Forum to learn each candidate’s position on issues related to affordable housing, sustainability, historic preservation, and creating equitable and empowered communities through community engagement.
  • 📱Local journalist Natalie Bencivenga has been doing interviews with candidates in different races through her “5 Minutes With” series on Instagram, including this interview with mayoral candidate Ed Gainey.

🏫 Twelve candidates are facing off for five seats on the Pittsburgh Public Schools board, a vote that can rework the district’s priorities. After a turbulent year in education, candidates see this as an opportunity to create better outcomes for Pittsburgh youth, especially Black students.

💼 There are nearly 40 candidates running for nine open seats in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, which for many Pittsburghers, presents an opportunity for criminal justice reform in the region. These judges are responsible for overseeing trials for criminal, civil, and family cases and delivering sentencing.

🗳️Pittsburgh City Council has two races in District 2 and District 4, and County Council has a race in District 9. Visit each District link for more information on the candidate’s views on education, police, infrastructure, incarceration, and what community members and organizations support their candidacy, reported from Pittsburgh City Paper.

  • District 2 includes Banksville, Duquesne Heights, Mount Washington, and all West End neighborhoods. Council President Theresa Kail-Smith is the incumbent and is running against director of engagement at Archangel Gabriel Parish, Jacob Williamson.
  • District 4 includes South Hills neighborhoods of Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick, and Overbrook, as well as parts of Mount Washington. Incumbent Councilmember Anthony Coghill is running against Bethani Cameron, a single mom who previously worked for former councilperson Natalia Rudiak.
  • District 9 includes Duquesne and McKeesport, Dravosburg, Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln, Port Vue, Versailles, West Mifflin, and White Oak, as well as the townships of Elizabeth, Forward, North Versailles, and South Versailles. Incumbent Robert J. Macey is running against Steel Valley Middle School teacher Steven Singer.

What about the ballot questions?

⁉️Ballot questions can be confusing when you read all of the legal jargon. Luckily, Sarah Anne Hughes at Spotlight PA and Amanda Waltz at Pittsburgh City Paper did us a service by defining every 2021 ballot question and what they mean for Pittsburghers. Here’s an overview of what questions you can expect:

  • Pittsburgh City Ballot Question: No-knock warrant ban
  • Allegheny County Ballot Question: Solitary confinement limit
  • Pennsylvania Statewide Ballot Question: Municipal fire department reform
  • Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1: Termination or extension of disaster emergency declarations
  • Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2: Disaster emergency declaration and management
  • Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3: Prohibition against denial or abridgement of equality of rights because of race or ethnicity

A few more voting housekeeping items before you go:

  • To vote in this election, you would have had to register to vote by May 3, and you have until the end of business day TODAY to request a mail-in ballot.
  • If you requested an absentee or mail-in ballot, it has to reach the county’s department of elections by 8 p.m. on May 18 to be counted.
  • If you mail it, you must use a stamp, or USPS will not deliver it. And don’t forget to place the ballot inside the secrecy envelope, or your vote won’t be counted.

If you need more specific information on your polling place, visit the PA voter’s services site.