Council won't act on ordinance aimed at Onorato
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Allegheny County Council on Wednesday voted not to take action on a proposed ordinance that would have required the county executive to take a leave of absence while he runs for governor.
The 11-4 vote on political lines came one day after County Executive Dan Onorato won the Democratic nomination for governor.
Council's four Republican members voted for a resolution that would have brought before council a measure mandating that Mr. Onorato and his successors take unpaid leaves if they seek any other office. All 11 Democrats were opposed. Councilman Matt Drozd, R-Ross, proposed the ordinance about four months ago, but it languished in a council committee.
Mr. Onorato and his Republican opponent, Attorney General Tom Corbett, have rejected suggestions that they quit or take leaves while running for governor. Neither is legally required to leave his current position.
Wednesday's debate was spirited, with Democrats accusing Mr. Drozd of playing politics.
Councilman James Ellenbogen, D-Banksville, asked why Mr. Drozd didn't want to impose a similar requirement on other elected officials, like the sheriff or county treasurer.
County council members are required to resign their seats if they run for another position, said Councilman Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park. Mr. Drozd was raising a legitimate issue about a double standard involving the county executive, he said.
Brian Jensen, who helped draft the county charter, said the provision allowing the executive to run for another position was done precisely to give the region's top elected official an opportunity to seek higher office.
"It was done, in part, to get somebody who knows something about Allegheny County elected governor," he said Tuesday. Mr. Jensen is senior vice president for civic policy at the Allegheny Conference.
First Published May 20, 2010 12:00 am