Baker in District 1: The Republican deserves a seat on county council

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Voters in Allegheny County Council's District 1 can choose among three thoughtful candidates to replace incumbent Matt Drozd, a two-term disappointment who lost his re-election bid in the Republican primary. Representation can only get better.

Next month's election features Republican Tom Baker, 34, and Democrat Daniel A. McClain, 35, both of Ross, and Constitution Party nominee Jim Barr, 60, of West View. The winner will represent Aleppo, Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights, Coraopolis, Emsworth, Findlay, Glen Osborne, Glenfield, Haysville, Kilbuck, Moon, North Fayette and West View.

Mr. Barr, who works with mentally challenged adults through the Verland Foundation, ran unsuccessfully for state House and West View Council. During a meeting with Post-Gazette editors, this former Republican offered the weakest ideas in the group.

He favors increasing state corporate taxes to reduce property taxes, a politically unrealistic proposal, and he is such a strong proponent of repairing roads and bridges -- necessary, to be sure -- that he would oppose new projects, including a proposed rapid transit link for Downtown and Oakland.

Mr. McClain, an internal audit manager for U.S. Steel, is a member of the Girty's Run Sewer Authority and vice chairman of the Ross Democratic Committee. In the district he'd like to foster economic growth along the airport and McKnight Road corridors and in Coraopolis, replace the HOV lane on Interstate 279 with light rail transit and repair the weight-restricted bridge on Center Avenue in Emsworth. Countywide, he would offer additional property tax breaks for senior citizens.

Mr. Baker is a member of the North Hills School Board, former board president of the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project and chief community affairs officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh. He would help property owners by providing assistance with appeals, which the city of Pittsburgh offers.

Mr. Baker agrees with some but not all of the initiatives of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, including the Consol Energy drilling lease at the airport, getting revenue from advertising and naming rights at county parks and sustaining the Port Authority.

It's a close call between Mr. McClain and Mr. Baker, each of whom is well-prepared for a seat on council. We give the edge to Tom Baker, who offers a prudent approach to Allegheny County's problems and will provide more of a check on an executive and council dominated by Democrats.

opinion_editorials - electionseditorials

First Published October 15, 2013 8:00 PM


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