Shortly after a brief swearing-in ceremony that made her one of the most powerful people in Western Pennsylvania, new Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato on Tuesday delivered a 30-minute speech that laid out her administration’s vision.

She included references to tattoos (she’s the first county executive to have any), yinzer accents, traditions such as cookie tables and french fries on salads, and references to the region’s ability to rebound from past calamities — she mentioned the 1936 flood, the collapse of the steel industry, and the Steelers’ disastrous 1988 season (they finished 5-11). She even tossed in a quote from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

These mentions drew chuckles and nods from the friends, supporters and fellow Democrats gathered for the day’s festivities at the Byham Theater, Downtown. Cheers came, however, when Innamorato described how she’d make real the cornerstone of her campaign — “building an Allegheny County for all.”

While acknowledging the region’s successes — historically low unemployment, growing income levels and consistent placement on lists of “best places to live” — Innamorato noted that life for many residents remains difficult. The post-pandemic economic recovery here is one of the slowest in the country, she said. Many residents struggle to afford the basic necessities of life.

Here she quoted FDR’s 1937 inauguration speech: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Sara Innamorato lays out her vision. (Steve Mellon)

“I find clarity and wisdom in those words,” Innamorato said. “They inspire me as I think about the mission of the Innamorato administration and how I want us to define success for Allegheny County. We are all here, eyes wide open, aware of our strengths and opportunities to do better — together. Not at the expense of any group or any population, but for the good of our shared community and our common future.”

High on her list: jobs. She pointed out one way in which her administration can have a very real impact. The county government now has more than 1,000 open positions, she said. Innamorato plans to make those jobs more attractive in a number of ways — by reviewing wages, for example, and removing degree requirements. 

“We’re also mindful that workers at any workplace can’t thrive if they aren’t safe,” she said. “At the county level, we will ensure that our employers are setting the highest standards for public and private workers by creating the Office of Worker Protection.”

Next came a discussion of a green energy economy. Innamorato said her administration is establishing a new position — director of climate resilience and green jobs — that will focus on bringing in federal money for clean energy industries and climate-resilient infrastructure.

Economic development in the private sector will include efforts (in partnership with the state) to lure established businesses to Allegheny County, and investing in local entrepreneurs and small businesses to “rebuild our Main Streets.”

Alongside these economic development initiatives, Innamoraato said, her administration will leverage county government to provide an “expansive and robust safety net” that will touch on a number of sectors — immigration, affordable housing, child care, public transit and public safety. “We are facing challenges that impact the county’s bottom line, and the wealth and well-being of our families,” she said.

Her director of housing will “use every tool at the county’s disposal” to help those without homes, build more affordable housing for working-class families and secure funding for vital home repairs, she said.

She said her administration will invest in “strong youth programs” that will guide young people toward opportunities and away from crime and the criminal justice system, and strengthen programs that help those who’ve been incarcerated to secure jobs and housing.

Innamorato said she’ll being serving on the county’s Board of Elections. “I want you to know that I believe protecting our democracy is one of the most sacred commitments between our government and the people we serve — and I look forward to sharing some good news with you soon about how we will keep our elections protected while expanding accessibility to voters this year,” she said.

Below are a few other highlights from the event:

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

“I served with her in Harrisburg and I saw how hard she fought for working-class families, how hard she fought to make sure the state was giving them the resources they need. She never wavered, and she never backed down.” Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey

Darrin Kelly, president of the Allegheny-Fayette County Central Labor Council. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

“She wants to be able to look up at all of you, never look down. That is strength, that is leadership. That is recognizing that a pyramid is built from the bottom up, never from the top down. That is how we survive.” — Darrin Kelly, president, Allegheny-Fayette County Central Labor Council

Lyndsey Smith sings the national anthem followed by the Black national anthem. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Union Progress)
The Renaissance City Choir performs shortly before Innamorato is sworn in. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at

Steve Mellon

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at