Gibson in District 3: A newcomer is the better choice for county council

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The candidates in the District 3 race for Allegheny County Council don't differ much on the issues. While both are well-informed, this contest is more of a choice between a newcomer and a better-known contender.

Ed Kress, 42, an attorney in private practice, has name recognition, having been appointed twice to fill the remaining months of unexpired terms on county council in 2005 and 2011. His trouble is that he's better at being appointed to office than being elected.

In 2005, he lost to Democrat Jim Burn, who decided to complete his council service this year, creating the contest. In 2011, Mr. Kress of Shaler lost the GOP primary to Heather Heidelbaugh for an at-large seat. In 2007, he ran for sheriff and lost to Democrat Bill Mullen.

Mr. Kress, a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Duquesne Law School, has favored raising revenue by selling naming rights to county property such as bridges. He supports gas drilling under county parks (such as West Deer, in the district) provided that the drill sites are located outside park boundaries, backs a Bus Rapid Transit plan to link Oakland and Downtown and wants formal property tax assessments appeals to be heard in the suburbs and not just Downtown.

The Democratic nominee, Mary Gibson, 30, of Fox Chapel, generally agrees, although she is leery of selling off the names to county landmarks. With a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and both law and business school degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, she works for Giant Eagle as a business risk analyst and corporate counsel. She is also vice chair of the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission.

Reinforced by her corporate background and what she is hearing from residents, her leading priority is job creation, hence her support for gas drilling under county parks, provided steps are taken to ensure its safely.

On property tax assessment, she said the county website is confusing and she favors a more streamlined process for appeals so that homeowners don't feel compelled to hire a lawyer.

It's a close call for voters in this north-suburban district which comprises Reserve, Millvale, Etna, Shaler, Sharpsburg, Aspinwall, O'Hara, Fox Chapel, Indiana, Hampton and West Deer. But Mr. Kress has had his chance before the people and they keep electing someone else.

District 3 voters should choose Mary Gibson because of her solid qualifications, business perspective and fresh thinking.

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