In Pennsylvania this is a local election year, and the danger of local elections is voters are apt to ignore them. Yet the candidates on Tuesday’s ballot are, by and large, people who live closer to us and have a more detailed understanding of our communities than those who run in other years.
Although there’s a statewide race to fill a seat on Superior Court and all Pennsylvania voters will decide which appellate judges should be retained for another 10 years, the other offices up for grabs are at the county, city, township, borough or school district level. As we said, these are the people who serve the public close to home — so choose wisely.
Maintaining its commitment to inform the voters of the Pittsburgh region, members of the Post-Gazette editorial board interviewed 61 candidates this year, in advance of the spring primary and general election, in contested races statewide and in Allegheny County. In the last two weeks the Post-Gazette published and posted its endorsements of candidates who are on the Nov. 5 ballot. Here is a recap of those recommendations.
Pittsburgh Mayor: Bill Peduto is ready to lead Pittsburgh. The 49-year-old Democrat from Point Breeze has represented District 7 on city council since 2002, was a councilman’s chief aide before that and is a serious student of good government practices. He pledges to curb the pay-to-play culture that plagues city contracting, maintain fiscal responsibility with the help of state oversight and work to attain sustainable development, livable neighborhoods and thousands of new city residents.
His enthusiasm for Pittsburgh is unbridled, he is already meeting with the city’s non-governmental leaders and neither of his token opponents comes close to offering the skills he will bring to the office.
Pittsburgh Council: Voters in District 4 should re-elect Natalia Rudiak. The best of five candidates in District 7, a seat left open by the departure of Councilman Patrick Dowd, is Deb Gross. In District 8, voters will be well-served by Councilman Bill Peduto’s chief aide, Dan Gilman. All three are Democrats.
Ballot Question: Pittsburgh voters should say Yes to requiring city employees, including police and firefighters, to be residents of the city.
Allegheny County Sheriff: The challenger is no competition for the experience, professionalism and law enforcement background of the incumbent, Democrat Bill Mullen.
Allegheny County Council: In District 1, Republican Tom Baker is the best in a three-way race. District 3 voters should go with an intelligent newcomer, Democrat Mary E. Gibson. It’s time for change in District 8, with Republican David Majernik. And District 9 residents should re-elect Bob Macey, a Democrat.
Superior Court: Two candidates are competing for a seat on the state’s hardest-working court, based on case volume. The top choice is the only one who has judicial experience, Jack McVay Jr., a Democrat from Shadyside who has been a Common Pleas Court judge for five years.
Common Pleas Court: Allegheny County voters have four seats to fill on the bench and six candidates vying for the job. The best are Judge Bill Ward of Mt. Lebanon, who is already serving due to an appointment to the court; Mark Tranquilli of Upper St. Clair, a top prosecutor in the district attorney’s office; Eleanor Bush of Squirrel Hill, whose career as a lawyer has been spent in child advocacy; and P.J. Murray of Upper St. Clair, whose legal specialty is complex civil cases.
Judge Ward and Mr. Murray have Republican nominations; Ms. Bush is a Democratic nominee; and, due to cross-filing and dual primary wins, Mr. Tranquilli is running with both party nominations.
Judicial Retention: Judges in Pennsylvania go before the voters after serving 10 years on the bench. Now it’s up to the people to decide whether they should stay or go. The Post-Gazette recommends a Yes vote to keep these justices and judges:
• Supreme Court: Ronald D. Castille and Max Baer
• Superior Court: Susan Gantman and Jack Panella
• Common Pleas: Ronald Folino, Kathleen Mulligan, Lawrence O’Toole, Jill Rangos, Christine Ward and John Zottola