Roberts to run for county controller

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Allegheny County Manager of Real Estate Valerie McDonald Roberts has officially announced her run for county controller, following County Executive Dan Onorato’s announcement that he would not run for a third term.

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VALERIE McDONALD ROBERTS

“I wanted to make sure, as a courtesy, that Dan had the space and time to make his announcement,” she said. “Had he decided to run again, then we would have had to have a discussion about my run because I am an appointee and serve at his pleasure.”

Roberts said she wanted to announce her bid as early as possible so she could begin soliciting support for the Democratic Party endorsement.  Still, state Rep. Chelsa Wagner, D-Beechview, beat her to the punch, announcing her run for the controller’s position Jan 10.

“It’s better earlier than later, but I’ve still got a lot of balls in the air. I’ve called several elected officials and will now step up my efforts to get the endorsement,” she said. “Right now I have blinders on. I’m getting my committee up and running, and should have the website, Facebook page, and all the social media in place by the end of the week.”

Roberts said, given her 21 years in public service, her run for controller is following a natural progression.

“I have never run for an office as a stepping stone. I have always done so because I wanted to do a good job. And I have,” she said.

Though Wagner is the only other officially announced candidate, former Clerk of Courts George Matta, and state Reps. Dan Kotik, D-Robinson, and Mark Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon have hinted at runs. Current Controller Mark Flaherty plans to run for the county executive position.

Roberts said she would not comment on her opponents.

“I can only focus on myself. In 2001, I was in a four-way race for Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds, and I was honored to win the committee’s endorsement,” she said. “I am hopeful that after nine years as a county official, I can at least get that same amount of support.”

Roberts said of all the candidates, announced or not, she is the most qualified. Roberts worked as a chemist before seeking her first elected office—Pittsburgh School Board. She then served as the District 9 Pittsburgh Council representative until winning her bid for Recorder of Deeds.

She ran for Lt. Governor in 2006, losing to Catherine Baker Knoll. Following the consolidation of the County’s Recorder of Deeds, Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts row offices, Onorato appointed her to head the real estate office.

“Whether there’s one person or five in the race I have to capitalize on what I’ve done,” she said. “I have experience. I’ve been in corporate America, served as a legislator, and an administrator, and I have more experience running a row office than any of my potential opponents. The breadth of my career experiences prepares me to handle the essence of the County Controller’s job – independent fiscal responsibility for Allegheny County.  ‘Good government’ and ‘reform’ are great concepts, but I have actually implemented them, and will always strive for nothing less than excellence in government.”

The countywide endorsement vote is scheduled for March 6 with the location yet to be determined.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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