May 17 is a very important date in Pennsylvania. It’s the Pennsylvania primary day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. And since Pittsburgh is predominately Democrat it makes it even more important for the Black community to come out to vote, because the winner of the primary will most likely either have no opponent or a weak opponent in the general election.
There are several key races open this election which will affect the Black community. The County Executive, County Controller, District 9 City Council race and the School Board races in District 8 and District 2.
The County Executive race pits Rich Fitzgerald and Mark Patrick Flaherty for this office. Both candidates are capable but we endorse Fitzgerald, because of his visibility in the Black community over the years. He’s been at several African–American functions and was very visible well before he was running for office. That says a lot about a candidate, because we don’t see him before an election, we are not going to see him after. Fitzgerald has also vowed to not raise property taxes, which affects all county residents, especially African-Americans.
The three candidates in the County Controller race are: George Matta, Valerie McDonald Roberts, and Chelsa Wagner. All three candidates are very qualified and would do a good job in the position but we endorse Roberts because of her outstanding accomplishments as a school board member, and city council woman representing the Homewood, East End area, and more recently manager of Allegheny County Real Estate. We feel she will be an excellent Controller.
Reverend Ricky Burgess has two challengers for his District 9 city council seat. Even though both Phyllis Copeland-Mitchell, and Lucille Prater-Holiday are very capable candidates we feel that Rev. Burgess is better partly because he’s already on the job, but mostly because he has been a leader in the fight for more block grant money to be spent in Homewood, and more development there. Because of his experience he will be better able to bring in more development to District 9 which needs it as much as any community.
The two key School Board seats up are District 2 and District 8. Dara Ware Allen was appointed two years ago by the mayor to fill the District 2 seat, and has done an admirable job but we give our endorsement to Regina Holley because of her background as a retired principle who turned around a failing school in a poor community. She has a very solid background and appears to be the best person for the job. We were unable to contact Celina Bassant because she did not return calls.
Mark Brentley has three very capable candidates challenging him this year with a goal of working better with the rest of the school board. Even though this is something we feel Brentley needs to start doing, we do think that with a new superintendent, Linda Lane, he will work better with the rest of the board and her. Just because he was the lone voice, doesn’t mean he was the wrong voice. Look for a much more agreeable Brentley, but still a very aggressive leader for District 8.