Allegheny County controller Chelsa Wagner resigns House seat

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Brookline Democrat Chelsa Wagner resigned her seat in Pennsylvania's House of Representatives today, two weeks after being sworn in as Allegheny County's controller.

She represented the 22nd legislative district in Harrisburg for five years. As part of a statewide reapportionment process, the district is set to be transferred to Allentown, Lehigh County, in northeastern Pennsylvania, which gained population.

Ms. Wagner, 34, had pledged to keep her $82,000-a-year Harrisburg job to better represent her constituents during reapportionment while working her new county job salary-free. It became public last week that her county controller's salary had been increased from $66,500 to $89,904; officials said the increase was to offset a decade of cost-of-living increases that had never been applied.

The controller kept the state job in part to protest a remapping process that left her South Hills base splintered among five other districts, and to criticize leaders of her own party for their handling of the process. The five House members have pledged to keep existing constituent services offices in Brookline and Whitehall open.

"Although the House Democratic Caucus Leadership has let my constituents down in both the reapportionment process and in this transition, I am pleased that my rank-and-file colleagues in the House who will soon represent these communities have worked with me to ensure that our high standards of constituent service and commitment to the needs of the residents of this district will continue to be met," she said in a statement.

The controller's office today also announced the hiring of two top staffers. Amy Griser will serve as deputy controller, focusing on the auditing and accounting roles of the fiscal watchdog office. She served for eight years as budget and finance director for former executive Dan Onorato, and led his auditing division when Mr. Onorato served as controller.

Chief of staff Seth Hufford will handle day to day operations and strategic planning for the row office. He formerly directed leadership development programs for international executives at Carnegie Mellon University and ran the Coro Leadership New York program and initiatives at Leadership Pittsburgh.

In other General Assembly news, former Ross Township commissioner Mark Purcell has announced he will run again against incumbent state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl of the North Side in the Democratic primary for his 20th District seat.

Mr. Purcell is chief of staff to state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg, and came in second to Mr. Ravenstahl in the last primary battle for the seat in 2010.


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