As grudge matches go, the one between Pittsburgh Councilman Jim Motznik and former state Rep. Michael Diven over the district judge seat in the South Hills is a doozy. It is also distracting. Consequently, Mr. Motznik, a two-term incumbent, is not seeking re-election to council.
This means that the race to find a Democratic nominee for the District 4 council seat serving Bon Air, Overbrook, Carrick, Brookline, Beechview and parts of Banksville and Mount Washington is wide open for the first time in years. The three men and one woman competing in the May 19 primary (there is no Republican on the ballot) have qualities that reflect the best of the communities they're striving to represent.
Patrick Reilly, 27, the community outreach coordinator for state Rep. Chelsa Wagner, has the backing of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. The Overbrook resident is a graduate of Seton-La Salle High School and the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in communications. He's energetic, smart and understands the value of networking. Like his rivals, Mr. Reilly promises that economic development in the struggling business districts of the South Hills will be his top priority.
Anthony Coghill, 42, a Beechview roofing contractor, is no stranger to the race. This is his third run for the District 4 council seat. He says neighborhood businesses have deteriorated during Mr. Motznik's tenure. An active member of the Beechview Merchants' Association, Mr. Coghill is the founder of one of the largest roofing businesses in Pittsburgh.
At 66, Richard Weaver, a Brookline resident, has seen many council members come and go over the years. He is a city demolition officer who used to do code enforcement for Pittsburgh's building inspection department. Like his colleagues, Mr. Weaver believes reviving business districts and lowering crime are the keys to turning District 4 around.
Natalia Rudiak, 29, of Carrick is well-known as someone who can be found at community meetings throughout the district on any given night. She is active in a half-dozen neighborhood organizations committed to improving the local quality of life.
The self-employed consultant was a Coro leadership fellow and an employee of Deloitte Consulting. Ms. Rudiak is a graduate of Carrick High School and George Washington University. She has a master's in public policy from Carnegie Mellon University and has studied at the London School of Economics.
Ms. Rudiak's candidacy is timely because her academic background is integral to both her community activism and political aspirations. She's combined a natural bent toward public policy with a compassion that keeps her rooted in the community where she grew up.
Because of her background with nonprofits and community groups, Ms. Rudiak is poised to bring about much-needed revival of the business districts. She's comfortable with complexity and understands that District 4 is part of a larger city mosaic. She's progressive, hard-working and temperamentally ready for the rigors of the office.
Thanks to her hard work in District 4, she's won the endorsements of diverse groups representing teachers, environmentalists, government employees and food workers. Add to this list the endorsement of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. For District 4 Democrats on May 19, Natalia Rudiak is the best choice hands down.