Sophie Masloff's 70-year streak was in danger.
The former mayor of Pittsburgh says she hasn't missed an election since she started as Democratic committeewoman in the Depression-era Hill District. But that record was jeopardized by her recent hospitalization, which caused her to miss the normal deadline to request an absentee ballot. Still recovering in a rehab unit at Montefiore Hospital, she still doesn't feel well enough to go to the polls.
Judge Joseph James came to the rescue Monday, granting her attorney's emergency application for an absentee ballot, allowing her to protect that perfect voting record and join the thousands of voters who will choose among the long list of municipal and judicial candidates vying in today's primary.
"I'm so disappointed that I'm not out there helping," Mrs. Masloff said. "I'm really sick, but of course I'm holding court here in my room."
But if she won't be at the polls in person, at least her vote will be counted in a collection of contests led by the race for the Pittsburgh mayoral nomination. Across the state, voters also will be choosing nominees for mayor, judge and school board.
The chief focus in this region has been on the vigorously contested race for the Democratic nomination for Mrs. Masloff's old office, mayor of Pittsburgh. The leading candidates in the four-person field were reaching out to potential supporters right through the final hours of the campaign.
Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner started his day waving to commuters as they inched toward the southern portal of the Liberty Tubes. Later he'd be door-knocking in the South Hills communities that have long been his political base.
On the other side of the river, city Councilman Bill Peduto climbed behind the wheel of a street sweeper, planning to circumnavigate the city in that hulking, three-wheeled metaphor for his promise to clean up city hall. After a rally with supporters on the steps of the City-County Building, he headed along Forbes Avenue toward Market street, as Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" blared.
Perhaps demonstrating his concern for the safety of the city he hopes to lead, Mr. Peduto wasn't actually driving the street sweeper, which had a pilot/co-pilot setup of dual steering wheels. The unlikely campaign chariot was rented from Bridgeville's A&H Equipment Co., and A&H's Earl Greenawald was doing the actual driving.
Mr. Peduto and Mr. Wagner are regarded as the front-runners in a race that also includes state Rep. Jake Wheatley and A.J. Richardson, a Sheraden community activist. The winner will face Josh Wander of Squirrel Hill, who is unopposed for the Republican mayoral nomination.
Four of the nine city council seats are also on the ballot. Theresa Kail-Smith is unopposed for the Democratic nomination in District 2 in the city's western neighborhoods. Three candidates, Jeanne Clark, Sam Hens-Greco and Daniel Gilman, seek the Democratic nomination for council's District 8, the East End seat opened by Mr. Peduto's decision to run for mayor. District 6, which includes communities in the Hill District, Downtown and the North Shore, has another three-way Democratic contest as incumbent R. Daniel Lavelle faces challenges from former mayoral candidate Franco "Dok" Harris and Tonya Payne, who was ousted by Mr. Lavelle the last time around. In the 4th District, which covers many neighborhoods south of the rivers, Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak is being challenged by Johnny Lee.
There are four competitive races for county council nominations. In the South Hills, newly appointed District 5 councilwoman Krista Harris, who is serving by appointment, is being challenged by Sue Means for the GOP nomination. Republicans Tom Baker and Matt Drozd, the incumbent, are seeking the Republican nomination in District 1, a North Hills seat. In District 3, another North Hills seat, Ed Kress faces Michael McMullen for the GOP nomination. In a Mon Valley seat, District 9, Councilman Bob Macey faces Arlene F. Jabbour.
A seat on Superior Court is the only statewide contest on the ballot. Judge Joseph Waters of Philadelphia and Judge Jack McVay of Allegheny County are vying for the Democratic nomination for the court while Vic Stabile is unopposed for the GOP nomination. Seats on Common Pleas Court and magisterial district judge seats also are on today's ballot.
In Allegheny County, 13 candidates are in the running for four open seat on Common Pleas Court. Most are running in both major party primaries. Cross-party filing is also permitted in the school board elections occurring across the state.
For the most part, primary contests are limited to registered Republican and Democratic voters. Independents in a few communities in Allegheny County will be able to cast ballots in a South Hills special election for the state House, while Bethel Park residents of any party will be able to vote on a proposed change to its home rule charter.
The legislative contest is in the South Hills seat vacated when Matt Smith moved to the state Senate. In that district, the 42nd, Democrat Dan Miller faces Republican Dan Remely and George Brown, a Libertarian. The winner will take office as soon as the results are certified.
Politics Editor James O'Toole: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1562. First Published May 21, 2013 4:00 AM