This is the first in a series of candidate endorsements in key competitive races in Allegheny County and statewide for the May 19 primary. The Post-Gazette will print a recap of its recommendations on Sunday, May 17.
Voters in City Council District 2 have good reason to be experiencing deja vu.
Some of them went to the polls just two and a half months ago (the rest of us were at the Steelers victory parade) to fill temporarily the seat left empty when Councilman Dan Deasy moved to the state House of Representatives. Now two of the candidates who were on that ballot -- Theresa Smith, who won, and Georgia Blotzer -- are seeking a full, four-year term. Joining them in the May 19 primary for the Democratic nomination is Robert Frank, who did not run in February.
Special elections followed quickly by runs for a full term seem to be the way of doing business in District 2. In 2005, after Alan Hertzberg resigned to become a judge, Mr. Deasy won a special election in the spring and came back in the fall to win his own term.
Ms. Smith, 49, of Westwood naturally would like to see that bit of history repeat itself. She handily won in the special election and again this time she carries the coveted endorsement of the Democratic Committee. As in the last race, she has a worthy challenger in Ms. Blotzer, 59, of Mount Washington.
Mr. Frank, 40, of Duquesne Heights, development manager for the Multiple Sclerosis Service Society, is outmatched in this race by these two women, both of whom have long records of working enthusiastically on behalf of their respective neighborhoods.
Ms. Smith has been president of the Crafton Heights, Westwood, Ridgemont Community Council; vice president of the Westwood Oakwood Athletic Association; and a former coordinator of the Parent Educational Resource Center for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, a position in which she worked in the community.
Ms. Blotzer, a retired special education teacher, has been active in the Mount Washington Community Development Organization, initiating a house tour intended to lure real estate agents to the neighborhood. She was a member of the group that worked for the replacement of barriers, fences, sidewalks and lighting on McArdle Roadway -- important work in a part of Pittsburgh with a world-famous view.
Both women are keenly interested in improving the business and residential climate throughout District 2, which includes Banksville, Chartiers City, Crafton Heights, Duquesne Heights, East Carnegie, Elliott, Esplen, Fairywood, Mount Washington, Oakwood, Ridgemont, Sheraden, Windgap, West End and Westwood.
But it is Ms. Blotzer's view of what is necessary citywide that distinguishes her as a candidate. She is the stronger advocate for campaign finance restrictions, believing the lack of donor limits has created a climate that rewards and favors contributors with city business. She also recognizes that Pittsburgh is not ready to come out from under Act 47, the designation of being fiscally distressed that brings with it significant state oversight. Overall, we believe she is ready to make the tough choices needed for the good of her city.
Since there is no Republican on the ballot and the Democratic registration is so heavy, the winner of this primary is likely to win election next November. The Post-Gazette, which favored her in the special election, again endorses Georgia Blotzer as the strongest candidate for District 2 Democrats.
Correction/Clarification: (Published May 1, 2009) A task force working to improve McArdle Roadway on Mount Washington has not received federal funding. This editorial as originally published Apr. 30, 2009 on the City Council District 2 race was incorrect.