FRANCO DOK HARRIS
His website, Harrisfor6.com, is little more than a shell listing his educational credentials, a general summary of his work history since his 2009 mayoral run, and a quote saying he is the best candidate in the race for Pittsburgh’s district 6 council seat.
His Twitter and Facebook pages are equally bereft of detail. Still, the son of Hall-of-Fame Steelers running back Franco Harris said he can win his uphill battle—actually two uphill battles.
Not only is Dok Harris vying to defeat current Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, but also the woman who held the seat before him, Tonya Payne. In essence, he’s battling two incumbents.
So how does he convince voters he’s the best candidate when he has no record of legislative experience and both his opponents do?
“Well, can residents say they are better off having been represented by career politicians,” he said. “I have a successful record of creating solid small business legal policy. I think being a career politician is a detriment. I think not owing favors to the machine is a positive.”
Though born on the North Side, Harris, 33, grew up in the suburbs, attending Sewickley Academy, Princeton, then earning joint business and law degrees from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. He now lives Downtown, and the law firm he recently founded with Alexis Wukich is located in his childhood home.
This led opponent Payne to call him everything short of a carpetbagger, saying he never had to work for anything and has no connection to the community.
“My family and I have been involved in the city politically and economically for some time,” said Harris. “Tonya has the mentality that the seat is only for the Hill District—it’s not. It’s for the North Side, Downtown, Oakland and Uptown too. Sure, Hill residents can say they always have local representation, but how has it benefited them?”
Asked why he’s running, Harris said he decided to jump into the race after Lavelle was indicted for election law violations last year.
“I’m an attorney. If I did that, I’m losing my license and maybe in jail,” he said. “Danny’s charges are magically reduced and he gets (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) as if it were a summary offense.