Five vie for Pittsburgh's East End council seat

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Residents of an East End city council district have five candidates to choose from in the Nov. 5 special election to fill their vacant seat.

Two candidates who battled for the Democratic Party's nomination are already known to those following the special District 7 election to fill the two years left in former Councilman Patrick Dowd's term, and another candidate emerged at the filing deadline Wednesday, Morningside's Tom Fallon, who briefly ran against Mr. Dowd six years ago.

An official in the city's Libertarian party filed to be a candidate, but no Republican did.

Democrat Deb Gross, 47, of Highland Park won the party committee's nomination July 22 in a bare 47-43 win over Tony Ceoffe Jr., 29, of Lawrenceville. She is a community development consultant and former director of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance who is aligned with Democratic mayoral nominee Bill Peduto.

Like other regularly registered Democrats, Mr. Ceoffe was allowed to register as an independent to run in the special election. The son of Lawrenceville's district justice and Mr. Dowd's primary opponent in 2011, he was required by federal law to resign from his job at the city Housing Authority this week to become a candidate.

Mr. Ceoffe is also challenging the Democratic party's nomination of Ms. Gross in Common Pleas Court, contending it was improper and should be thrown out. A hearing on his complaint is set for Monday.

Mr. Fallon, 51, is a housing developer and former staffer to state Sen. Jim Ferlo who briefly ran for the District 7 seat in 2003 after Mr. Ferlo vacated it, and again in 2007 against incumbent Len Bodack and Mr. Dowd, the then-challenger. For the past several years, he has been updating dilapidated properties around East End neighborhoods.

Mr. Fallon said Wednesday he could bring private and public sector experience to the job. "When I looked at the candidates, I didn't see anybody with experience in any part of government whatsoever," he said.

David Powell of Morningside is a system programmer and activist in the local Libertarian Party. He could not be immediately reached.

The last candidate is James Wudarczyk, a customer service representative from Lawrenceville.

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Tim McNulty: or 412-263-1581. Follow the Early Returns blog at or on Twitter at @EarlyReturns.


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