Jeffrey S. Koch, a Pittsburgh city employee, edged businessman Bruce Kraus last night in a special election to fill the vacant seat in City Council's third district.Jeffrey S. Koch
In complete though still unofficial returns, Mr. Koch, the Democratic nominee, had 1,449 votes to Mr. Kraus' 1,271, in a district with a total registration of 24,120 voters. Six other candidates trailed well behind the leading contenders.
Mr. Koch, 44, will represent many of the city's southern neighborhoods for the balance of a term that expires at the end of 2007. He is the third city public works employee to ascend to council in the last few years, following the path of incumbents Jim Motznik and Dan Deasey.
His victory in a field of eight candidates was boosted by the Democratic Party nomination he won in a vote of the district's committee members. He fills the unexpired term of a seat vacated with former Councilman Gene Ricciardi's election last year as a district judge.
After an election that produced few ideological contrasts among the candidates, his victory is not expected to have any dramatic effect on the political dynamics of council, a body whose power, particularly on budget issues, has been somewhat marginalized by the state's fiscal oversight of the city.
Mr. Kraus, running as an independent, had the support of City Councilman William Peduto. According to the latest campaign contribution reports available before the balloting, Mr. Kraus also was the spending leader in a relatively low-budget race.
The balloting followed the pattern of low turnouts for city special elections. Overall, just under 14 percent of the district's registered voters cast a ballot.
Luke Ravenstahl, the City Council president, had rescheduled the vote to yesterday instead of March 7, to accommodate college students who would have been on spring break on the earlier date. But anyone who hoped that the college vote would have a significant impact on the outcome would have to be disappointed. The two 4th Ward polling places on the University of Pittsburgh campus, the 8th district and the 14th district, produced a total of just 139 votes.
The unofficial returns for the district, which includes Carrick, Allentown, Arlington Heights, Beltzhoover, Knoxville, the South Side, St. Clair Village, parts of Oakland and Mount Washington and the city neighborhood of Mount Oliver, were as follows:
Koch, 1,449; Kraus, 1,271; Bruce Krane, Krane for Council, 215; Neal S. Andrus, Republican, 186; Jason Phillips, Green Party, 72; Mark Rauterkus, Libertarian, 69; Matthew Bartus, independent, 47; Michael Waligorski, Disclosure, 40.
Politics Editor James O'Toole can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1562.