John Weinstein, the longtime county treasurer, narrowly won the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee to become the next county executive, reflecting the fragmented nature of the race.
He won the endorsement Sunday with 39% of voting committee members, who gathered at the South Side union hall of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 5, over the three other Democrats who sought the stamp of approval from party leaders. State Rep. Sara Innamorato got 32%; Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb got 28%; and attorney Dave Fawcett got 1.2%.
The stakes are high when all voters cast their ballots in this year’s primary on May 16, given that the executive can play a major role in setting the county government’s agenda on issues such as air quality, property taxes and the county jail; proposes the county’s $1 billion budget; and fills seats on boards and commissions. The current county executive is Rich Fitzgerald, a term-limited Democrat who will complete his third and final term at the end of this year.
Party officials gather and vote on endorsements before each spring primary. Voters can and sometimes do ignore the recommendations, which have been criticized in the past as out of touch with the party’s grassroots elements.
Committee members could vote for five hours Sunday and a festive, carnival-like atmosphere was palpable. Candidates set up booths, many offering food and drinks, before lining up side by side in the long hallway to the voting room to try and cajole a few last voters. Nearly 75% of committee members cast ballots in the endorsement contest, enough people that one candidate brought golf carts to chauffeur people to and from their cars. It took nearly four hours to finish counting the votes.
Several candidates — County Councilor Liv Bennett, entrepreneur Will Parker and Erin McClelland, a contracted project manager at the county human services department — did not seek the committee endorsement. Bennett said the required fees, which can tally to thousands of dollars, are out of reach for many candidates.
“The ACDC fees are an example of how public office has been designed for people of means and not those who are impoverished or the working class,” she said. “I know under the new ACDC leadership, they are trying to make things more equitable, but there is more that needs to be done.”
ACDC made changes this year to its endorsement process. Candidates will be featured in a mailed guide to Democratic voters with details on their positions, as well as receive access to a voter database to help outreach initiatives, in exchange for the fees.
The committee endorsed candidates for several other offices, including:
- County Court of Common Pleas: Patrick Sweeney (693), Anthony DeLuca (391), Andy Szefi (307).
- County controller: Corey O’Connor (1,052), Darwin Leuba (334).
- County treasurer: Erica Rocchi Brusselars (1,157).
- County district attorney: Matt Dugan (820), incumbent Stephen Zappala Jr. (578).
- County Council at-large: Bethany Hallam (819), Joanna Doven (553).
- County Council District 5: Dan Grzybek (98).
- County Council District 6: John Palmiere (78).
- County Council District 7: Nick Futules (103).
- County Council District 10: DeWitt Walton (76), Carlos Thomas (48), Eric Smith (30).
- County Council District 11: Paul Klein (108), Dennis McDermott (51).
- County Council District 13: David Bonaroti (125).
- Pittsburgh controller: Rachael Heisler (283), Tracy Royston (149), Kevin Carter (71).
- Pittsburgh Council District 1: Bobby Wilson (54).
- Pittsburgh Council District 3: Bob Charland (32).
- Pittsburgh Council District 5: Barbara Warwick (77), Matt Mahoney (7), Lita Brillman (4).
- Pittsburgh Council District 7: Deb Gross (32), Jordan Botta (30).
- Pittsburgh Council District 9: Khari Mosley (73).
- Pittsburgh Public Schools District 2: Ron Sofo (39), Devin Taliaferro (34).
- Pittsburgh Public Schools District 4: Yael Silk (49).
- Pittsburgh Public Schools District 8: Dwayne Barker (48).
- Magisterial district judges: Tara Smith (15); Dan Konieczka (58); Carolyn Bengel (13); Michael Colberg (14); Lisa Caulfield (22), Weldianne Scales (18), Brooke Burchette-Williams (2); Jeff Woodard (16); Eric Fischer (28), Matt Brungo (3); Patrick Campbell (18); Nina Ricciardi (49); Melanie Pallone (13), Jeffery Zurisko (11); Bruce Boni (10); Richard King (19); Casey Mullen (21), Philip Roberts (20), Kate Lovelace 20 (20); Dan Butler (81); James Hanley (41).
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said Liv Bennett won the endorsement for County Council District 13. It was won by David Bonaroti. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Union Progress regrets this error.
Jon, a copy editor and reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and working as a co-editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.