Peduto is crowned: Voters put their stamp on the post-Ravenstahl era

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The voters in Allegheny County Tuesday, where turnout was just 20.54 percent, were not exactly the Marines but they were the few and the proud, at least proud enough to do their civic duty. In the city of Pittsburgh they managed to muster some enthusiasm in choosing a new mayor in an otherwise dull election.

It is for success like Bill Peduto's that the word landslide became part of the political lexicon. The city councilman outpolled his Republican opponent, Josh Wander, by a margin of at least 7 to 1. Mr. Peduto's enthusiasm for the job was not to be denied.

Voters were clearly hungry for change after seven years of the often-absent Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who, with his administration wreathed in controversy, did not seek re-election. The leadership vacuum will soon be filled by a mature, energetic visionary who cares.

The people also gave Mr. Peduto, 49, a trio of like-minded allies to help him meet his goals. Dan Gilman, the mayor-elect's top aide, and Deb Gross were elected to council for the first time. Natalia Rudiak was re-elected. The new mayor heads to office wanting to do so much that his main challenge may be in setting priorities.

For the Republicans, it was a disaster. Blaming low turnout and voter sympathy for Mr. Peduto's long-frustrated mayoral quest does not cut it. Mr. Wander had the lowest vote total of a Republican mayoral candidate in decades.

That's what you get when you nominate a candidate who takes a job overseas and is absent during the campaign. Republicans constantly complain about how the Democrats' monopoly on government is bad for Pittsburgh -- and we agree. But until they do the grassroots party-building and fundraising necessary to win, wishing for a competitive two-party system is hopeless.

At least the Republicans did better in Allegheny County, where the party gained a seat on the 15-member county council, for a total of five. Newcomers Tom Baker and Sue Means will replace other Republicans, but Ed Kress, who was finally able to get the nod of the voters after past disappointments, will succeed Democrat Jim Burn, who is stepping down. Mr. Kress beat Democrat Mary Gibson in a close race. It was at least something to cap a night of few surprises.

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