Pittsburgh councilman interested in district judge seat

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Jim Motznik wants to move from the Pittsburgh City Council Chamber to the courtroom.

Mr. Motznik, who has served as councilman in District 4 since March 2001, announced yesterday that he will give up the post to run for the district judge seat now held by Charles McLaughlin, who is retiring when his term expires at the end of the year.

In an interview, Mr. Motznik said he believes he can have a greater influence on the problems facing the 19th Ward neighborhoods of Brookline, Beechview, Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights as a district judge.

He listed the main problems in the 19th Ward as drugs, crime, nuisance properties, absentee landlords, and graffiti.

"Those violators of those problems at the end of the day will have to come in front of me as district judge and I believe they're going to know that things need to change or they will be dealt with severely," he said.

The decision could pit Mr. Motznik, 45, of Brookline, against his ex-boss, former state Rep. Michael Diven, in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Diven, 38, also of Brookline, said yesterday he is "seriously considering" a run for district judge. He said he would make a decision after consulting with his wife, other family members, friends and people in the community.

"This is a very important position. You've got to have people who are independent and who will stand up for what is right. I think I'm capable of that," he said.

Mr. Motznik served as Mr. Diven's chief of staff when Mr. Diven was a city councilman. Mr. Motznik, a Democrat, backed Mr. Diven when he switched his registration from Democrat to Republican to run for state Senate in 2005.

However, Mr. Motznik later supported Chelsa Wagner against Mr. Diven in his re-election bid for state House. Ms. Wagner won that battle.

Mr. Diven insisted he is considering a run because "it's an open seat," not because Mr. Motznik happens to be in the race.

"This is a seat that has been held by Charles McLaughlin for 24 years. I wouldn't consider it running against anyone. I would consider it running for an open seat," he said.

Two candidates, Patrick Reilly of Brookline and Natalia Rudiak of Carrick, have announced they will run for Mr. Motznik's District 4 council seat. Both are Democrats. The district includes Brookline, Beechview, Carrick, Overbrook and Bon Air.

Mark Belko can be reached at mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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