30 Years: Allegheny County voters change government hierarchy

Part of the 30 Years, 30 Changes series on the Pittsburgh region

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Allegheny County's form of government has completely changed in the past 30 years.

Gone is the three-commissioner form of government and many of the former row offices, replaced by a single elected executive who handles all of the administrative functions and a part-time county council with limited power.

After voters appointed a home rule charter commission and then accepted many of the commission's recommendations, the county elected its first executive, Jim Roddey, in 2000. The first members of council began serving that year, 13 elected by district and two elected at large with the primary responsibility of overseeing the county budget.

Mr. Roddey, a Republican, had been a key member of the charter commission.

"I think overall you would give [the new system] high marks overall for turning out the way it was supposed to," Mr. Roddey said recently. "In the past, I think suburbanites didn't have any connection with county government. Once the council was created ... everybody has somebody to connect with county government.

"Overall, the fact you have one person in charge is a good thing. Having one person in charge is always the way to go."

In 2008, led by then-Executive Dan Onorato, voters also eliminated the elected court-related positions of prothonotary, clerk of courts, register of wills and recorder of deeds and made them administrative positions under the executive. Mr. Roddey said he would favor also eliminating the elected sheriff and treasurer.

In the last decade, there also has been talk of consolidating Pittsburgh and Allegheny County into one governmental unit but that has yet to move forward.


First Published October 12, 2013 8:00 PM


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