Allegheny County Council's newest member Harris is its youngest

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Allegheny County Council has appointed a woman who is a fundraiser with a local political consulting firm to fill a vacant county council seat.

At 28, Mt. Lebanon resident Krista Harris is the youngest member on council. She took her seat Tuesday night after being nominated by the council's Republican caucus and receiving a unanimous vote.

"I've always thought if I had the chance to make my community better, I should do it," she said.

She fills the seat vacated by Republican Vince Gastgeb, who held it since county council was formed more than a decade ago. Mr. Gastgeb resigned after taking a job at Pittsburgh International Airport, which is indirectly overseen by council.

Though she's new to political office, Ms. Harris is not new to politics. She worked as the executive assistant to U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Chester County, in Washington, D.C., before moving to Harrisburg and then Pittsburgh. Before that, she coordinated the re-election campaign of state Sen. Rob Wonderling, R-Montgomery County.

She's now the fundraising director at ColdSpark Media, a Downtown political consulting firm that advised Tom Smith in his Senate campaign against Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. Her husband, Mark Harris, headed Republican Pat Toomey's successful bid for U.S. senator and now leads ColdSpark. Ms. Harris is also a graduate of the Anne B. Anstine Excellence in Public Service Series, a training program for Republican women who want to seek public office.

Councilwoman Jan Rea, R-McCandless, said Ms. Harris has assured her she will run for a full term this November. She says she is glad for the fresh perspective council's youngest member will bring.

"She's a young woman with a young family," said Ms. Rea, the head of council's Republican caucus. "I think there certainly is a different perspective coming from someone in her age group."

Ms. Harris represents District 5, which includes Bethel Park, Bridgeville, Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair.

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Andrew McGill: amcgill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1497.


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