Three allies of Peduto grab Pittsburgh City Council seats

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A political newcomer, a Pittsburgh City Council staffer and an incumbent easily won council races Tuesday, while two other incumbents secured new terms without opposition.

Democratic nominee Deb Gross, 47, of Highland Park defeated four other candidates in a special election for the District 7 seat vacated during the summer by Patrick Dowd.

In District 8, Democrat Dan Gilman, 31, of Shadyside won the seat that his boss, Bill Peduto, decided to give up so he could run for mayor. And in District 4, Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, 33, a Democrat from Carrick, coasted to a second term.

Democratic Council members Theresa Kail-Smith, 54, and R. Daniel Lavelle, 36, were unopposed this fall. Ms. Kail-Smith represents western neighborhoods in District 2, while Mr. Lavelle's District 6 encompasses a part of the North Side plus Downtown, the Hill District and other areas.

Gilman
Gross
Rudiak

Ms. Gross will serve out the remaining two years of Mr. Dowd's term, while the others all won four-year terms.

Ms. Gross, Mr. Gilman and Ms. Rudiak all are allies of Mr. Peduto, who won Tuesday's mayoral race, and they likely will support his legislative agenda. Another staunch Peduto ally, Bruce Kraus, also sits on council.

Time will tell how the other five council members, including Ms. Kail-Smith and Mr. Lavelle, react to Mr. Peduto's agenda, which, he has promised, will move the city forward after the controversial tenure of outgoing Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

"I'm obviously humbled and honored by the victory, both in the primary and tonight," Mr. Gilman said, noting he received many Republican crossover votes.

Mr. Gilman said the results in his race, the mayor's race and the races won by Ms. Gross and Ms. Rudiak show that voters are "clamoring for a more progressive vision" and a government they can "finally be proud of."

He said progressive partnership extends to the county with Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

District 4

Ms. Rudiak defeated Republican Samuel Hurst, 30, an independent cab driver from Brookline.

She has said she will use a second term to continue a string of image-enhancing and development initiatives, such as creation of a tourism "dairy district" in Carrick. Some of those projects have included novel alliances with suburban municipalities.

Ms. Rudiak said she also has worked to give community groups better tools and more staying power so they can guide community growth with less reliance on elected officials.

Ms. Rudiak said she already has spoken with Mr. Peduto and his team about "goals and priorities that we have" for District 4 and the city.

"We sealed the deal tonight," Ms. Rudiak said. "We can finally start working on the next chapter."

The district takes in Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick, Overbrook and a small part of Mount Washington.

District 7

Ms. Gross, who has worked as a consultant on development, environmental and women's issues, defeated Tony Ceoffe, 29, a former Housing Authority employee from Lawrenceville who in 2011 unsuccessfully challenged Mr. Dowd for the seat; Jim Wudarczyk, 61, a customer-service specialist from Lawrenceville; Tom Fallon, 51, a businessman and former state Senate staffer from Morningside; and Dave Powell, 42, a Morningside resident and systems administrator for the University of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Ceoffe, Mr. Wudarczyk and Mr. Fallon changed their registration from Democrat to Independent to run in the general election. Mr. Powell is a Libertarian.

Ms. Gross said she was overwhelmed by the support she received and grateful to be part of an "optimistic moment" in the city's history. "I felt that excitement, and so did the people I talked to in District 7."

Ms. Gross said her priorities include traffic calming and traffic safety in the busy district, which takes in all or part of Bloomfield, Friendship, Highland Park, Morningside, Polish Hill, Stanton Heights and the Strip District.

District 8

Mr. Gilman, who has been Mr. Peduto's top council aide for eight years, defeated Republican Mordecai Treblow, 81, a retired chemist from Squirrel Hill. Because of his ties to the incoming mayor, he's likely to wield more clout than the average freshman.

He has promised to hit the ground running, noting that he already has worked on about $2 billion in development and learned to navigate the city bureaucracy and other government agencies to deliver constituent service.

He has said his goals include infusing more technology into city services and doing more to retain the many startups coming out of the city's universities.

The district takes in Shadyside and parts of Oakland, Point Breeze and Squirrel Hill.


Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.

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