Mayor, council, judges: Do you know how you’re voting in the 2021 primary election in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County?

Pittsburgh City Paper compiled this voters' guide to the May 18 primary to help you get the information you need to make choices about the next Pittsburgh mayor, city and county council members, judges and more.

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grid of candidates in pittsburgh 2021 primary elections

(Illustrations by Abbie Adams/Pittsburgh City Paper)

Politics in America after Donald Trump are, maybe somewhat surprisingly, returning to a more traditional dynamic. There isn’t the stress associated with checking what crazy thing the former president said, and how that might contribute to ongoing global chaos. As such, it feels like many Americans are paying a little bit less attention than before and allowing the political die-hards to take the reins. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just more of a return to normal.

Pittsburgh is undergoing this rebound, too. There still have been political shifts, and priorities among voters appear to be changing — issues about race, equity and reform are dominating elections across the region — but it feels like Pittsburgh’s 2021 Primary Election is mostly made up of the typical players.

However, that doesn’t mean that this year’s elections matter less or are less consequential. There are several big decisions to make. Pittsburgh is electing a mayor for another four-year term, and the Pittsburgh Public Schools board has a flurry of candidates that could reshape the district, which has had a controversial year. Additionally, there are nine open seats in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, which presents a paramount opportunity for criminal justice reform in the region.

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and other municipalities are electing councilors, and Pennsylvanians are weighing in on different levels on statewide judicial races, including a seat on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court. Not to mention, there are several ballot questions to answer, ranging from curbing emergency powers for Pennsylvania governors, limiting solitary confinement at the Allegheny County Jail and banning Pittsburgh Police officers from executing no-knock warrants.

Pittsburgh City Paper also wants to remind voters that they don’t need to wait until May 18 to cast votes for this primary election. If registered voters want to skip their polling place, they can apply for and send in a no-excuse mail-in ballot (learn more at votespa.com). Registered voters can also early vote by visiting the Allegheny County election office at 542 Forbes Ave., Downtown, and complete a ballot application, then fill out a ballot right there in the office.

Click to read each race's guide:
Pittsburgh Mayor
Pittsburgh City Council District 2
Pittsburgh City Council District 4
Allegheny County Council District 9
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judicial Elections
Ballot Question Explainer


Democratic Primary Election 2021:
Pittsburgh Mayor

By Ryan Deto
ryandeto@pghcitypaper.com

Three-term mayors in Pittsburgh are rare, and incumbent Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is trying to join that club. But this year, he’s garnered some considerable challenges from state Rep. Ed Gainey (D-Lincoln-Lemington), who is running to Peduto’s left on policing, and from retired police officer Tony Moreno, who is running to Peduto’s right. Math tutor Michael Thompson is also throwing his hat into the ring, further complicating what has been a low-key chaotic primary.

Ed Gainey black and white illustration

Ed Gainey

Bio: Served as state representative for several Pittsburgh East End neighborhoods since 2013. Prior to that, worked on community development for former Mayors Luke Ravenstahl and Tom Murphy. Received a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University, a historically Black college. Raised in Pittsburgh by a single mother. Lives in Lincoln-Lemington.

Housing: Wants to establish citywide inclusionary zoning to build more affordable units as part of new developments. Says the city needs a new focus on the land bank to bring blighted property that the city owns back onto the tax rolls. Says gentrification is forcing Black people out of the city.

Police: Wants Pittsburgh Police officers banned from using less-lethal weapons, like tear gas, sponge rounds and flash grenades. Says he would fire officers who commit misconduct more quickly and end mandatory arbitration of police disciplinary cases so the city can discipline easier. Supports ending no-knock warrants.

Environment: Wants to establish an ordinance that would remove lead from city pipes, homes and soil as part of his focus on “environmental racism.” Supports green infrastructure efforts to mitigate stormwater runoff. Opposed to rate increases at PWSA.

Supporters: Allegheny County Democratic Committee; Young Democrats of Allegheny County; SEIU Healthcare; Steel City Stonewall Democrats; Alliance for Police Accountability PAC; Pittsburgh City Councilor Deb Gross; State Reps. Sara Innamorato, Summer Lee and Jake Wheatley; Allegheny County Councilors Liv Bennett and Bethany Hallam; Pittsburgh NORML; Western PA Black Political Assembly; United Electrical Local 667.

Tony Moreno illustration

Tony Moreno

Bio: A retired police officer who worked as a detective in the narcotics unit. Served in the U.S. Army before joining the Pittsburgh Police department. Born and raised in Southern California. Lives in Brighton Heights in the North Side.

Housing: Wants to start a city-funded program to train plumbers, carpenters and others to rehab abandoned properties to convert into housing units. Says some areas with high rents are driving people out of the city.

Police: Says officers who commit misconduct should be taken off of public-facing duties. Defends the police union for protecting its workforce. Says officers who commit crimes should be dealt with on a criminal level, but different than how the union deals with them. Opposes Peduto’s rule that has officers avoid enforcing laws related to poverty or addiction.

Environment: Environmental plans include having police officers direct traffic during rush hour as a way to ease congestion. Wants to eliminate medians and trees on Grant Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard and then build a canvas of lights with carbon-eating plants over those streets. Wants to hire a private natural-gas related company to purify sewage runoff.

Supporters: Boilermakers union Local 154. Has received in-kind donations from the owners of Tequila Cowboy restaurant in the North Shore, as well as financial support from the owner of the Bigham Tavern in Mount Washington.

Bill Peduto

Bio: Two-term incumbent who served as a Pittsburgh City Councilor for several East End neighborhoods before becoming mayor of Pittsburgh in 2014. Received a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and a master’s from the University of Pittsburgh. Grew up in Scott Township, lives in Point Breeze.

Housing: Says updating the zoning code could allow for more housing near high quality transit, but wants community input first. Pledges support for inclusionary zoning pilot in Lawrenceville and securing a large number of affordable housing tax credits for the city. Created OwnPGH, a $22 million program to support affordable home ownership.

Police: Touts changes he made to the police department following officers using less-lethal weapons on protesters in summer of 2020. Says community policing reforms are working. Supports investing more in the department, citing decreased crime rates over his tenure, which he links to increased police spending. Supports police Chief Scott Schubert.

Environment: Says his administration has moved 100% of city operations to renewable power and has divested city’s pension from fossil-fuel companies. Has worked to add dozens of miles of bike lanes to the city, including protected lanes, which he has vowed to continue. Started lobbying efforts to plan for an end to natural-gas development in the region, while maintaining union jobs.

Supporters: United Steelworkers, Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers 1776, SEUI 32 BJ, eight of nine Pittsburgh City Councilors, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, State Rep. Emily Kinkead, Allegheny County Councilor DeWitt Walton, Clean Water Action, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Allegheny-Fayette County Labor Council.

Michael Thompson illustration portrait

Michael Thompson

Bio: Works as a math tutor at Butler County Community College and also as a ride-hail driver. Graduated from Brown University. Born and raised in Squirrel Hill and lives in Oakland.

Housing: Campaign website says that “housing is a human right” and notes that Thompson lives in public housing. Wants to model Pittsburgh’s equitable development programs after other cities like Atlanta, but hasn’t offered specifics.

Police: Says he ran because policing in the city is a “disaster.” Wants to bust the Pittsburgh Police union. If that can’t be done, wants to dissolve the police department and then have the Pennsylvania State Troopers provide policing to the city. Wants to divert funds from the police to social workers.

Environment: Says city needs to sit down with stakeholders and create a 30-year plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Supports plans to mitigate sewage runoff into the rivers; says it’s a 30-year plan to do so.

Supporters: No endorsements listed by campaign. Campaign site says he won’t accept funds from corporations or developers. No funding listed on the city's campaign website.

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Pittsburgh City Council District 2

By Ryan Deto
ryandeto@pghcitypaper.com

Pittsburgh City Council District 2 includes Banksville, Duquesne Heights, Mount Washington, and all West End neighborhoods, such as Chartiers City, Crafton Heights, East Carnegie, Elliott, Esplen, Fairywood, Oakwood, Ridgemont, West End Village and Westwood. Council President Theresa Kail-Smith is the incumbent.

illustrated portrait of Theresa Kail-Smith

Theresa Kail-Smith

Bio: First elected to Pittsburgh City Council in 2009, where she has served as Council President since 2020. Has a background in community volunteering, and sits on several Pittsburgh-area boards including the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Lives in Westwood.

Community engagement: Formed an anti-litter campaign, a free citywide grass cutting initiative, and an e-recycling program. Told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that after seeing long lines at regional food banks during the pandemic, she organized a food distribution program for her area.

Development: Touts helping to convert abandoned school and church buildings in her district into useful service community centers. Says she’s prioritizing seeing through the stabilization of Grandview Avenue in Mount Washington.

City Services: Says she has built a good relationship with the mayor over the years to bring more money into the district. Led efforts on converting Shiloh Avenue in Mount Washington into a pedestrian-only street to help accommodate outdoor dining during the pandemic.

Supporters: Pittsburgh Firefighters, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 5, Allegheny-Fayette County Labor Council, Steel City Stonewall Democrats, Boilermakers Local 154, Allegheny County Democratic Committee, LiUNA Union, Teamsters, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Steamfitters 449

illustrated portrait of Jacob Williamson

Jacob Williamson

Bio: Works as a director of engagement at Archangel Gabriel Parish, a Catholic church in Kennedy Township. Graduated from Gannon University and then earned a master’s degree in theology from the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado. Lives in Crafton Heights.

Community Engagement: Says his experience working with tens of thousands of parishioners has prepared him for serving District 2. Wants to work to bring a recreation center to the district.

Development: Supports efforts to boost home ownership rate, saying that too many Pittsburghers live in properties that landlords don’t maintain. Says not enough development is being guided to the West End and criticizes “broken promises,” citing a proposal to redevelop the Parkway Center Mall.

City Services: Criticizes City Council for only allocating 5% of capital budget to District 2 since 2016, and says he wants to bring in a bigger share to the district for street paving, parks and other services. Wants to increase that allocation.

Supporters: Terri Minor-Spencer, Founder and President of West End P.O.W.E.R., Former Allegheny County Councilor Jim Ellenbogen.

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Pittsburgh City Council District 4

By Amanda Waltz
awaltz@pghcitypaper.com

Pittsburgh City Council District 4 represents the South Hills neighborhoods of Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick and Overbrook, as well as parts of Mount Washington. It is represented by incumbent Councilor Anthony Coghill (D-Beechview).

illustrated portrait of Bethani Cameron

Bethani Cameron

Bio: Single mom who previously worked for former councilperson Natalia Rudiak, then as chief of staff for City Councilor Deb Gross until 2019. Also worked as policy analyst for Allegheny County controller Chelsa Wagner. Lives in Overbrook.

Evictions: In February, called on Pittsburgh City Council to issue eviction moratorium during pandemic. As a renter, believes she personally understands the issue. Told Pittsburgh City Paper that evictions were a “public health crisis,” saying, “Any city official has to help the health and safety of the residents. Not doing so is hurting people.”

Police: Wants to divert funding from the police budget and invest in all aspects of public safety, including funding social workers, mental health specialists, EMTs and more. Recognizes some communities fear police and changes should be made. “Doing public safety right means all Pittsburghers — including Black and Brown Pittsburghers — need to feel safe walking down the street or driving on the parkway.”

Infrastructure: Wants city funding to address “crises in flooding, snow removal, and infrastructure” in her district, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story. Believes the city overlooks her district in favor of the East End. Cites lagging public works response, parks maintenance and access to affordable housing as issues in her district.

Supporters: Clean Water Action, Women for the Future-Pittsburgh, Run for Something, Young Democrats of Allegheny County, Steel City Stonewall Democrats, Sunrise Movement Pittsburgh.

illustrated portrait Anthony Coghill

Anthony Coghill

Bio: Incumbent candidate. Born and raised in Beechview. Previously worked as constituent liaison for state Sen. Wayne Fontana. Elected as an Allegheny County Democratic Committeeman in 2010, and chairs the committee’s 19th Ward. Lives in Beechview.

Evictions: In February, part of unanimous vote to enact citywide eviction moratorium. Part of discussion to adopt law that covers landlord and tenant rights. Expressed concern for landlords who worry about losing rent payments and falling into debt.

Police: Has defended need for increased police presence. In December 2020, Coghill expressed concern about a vote to divert $5.3 million from the police to fund the new Stop the Violence initiative, reportedly citing local sporting events and the city’s hilly terrain as justifications for more policing.

Infrastructure: Says his record shows progress on improving snow removal and winter road maintenance in his district, contrary to Cameron’s claims. Points to successes like revitalizing the Las Palmas taco stand on Brookline Boulevard and tearing down dilapidated St. Basil’s school on Brownsville Road. Does not see affordable housing as an issue in his district.

Supporters: Allegheny County Democratic Committee, Allegheny-Fayette Labor Council, Sheetmetal Workers Local 12, Ironworkers PAC, Boilermakers Local 154, Pittsburgh Plumbers Local Union 27, campaign committees of U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, state Sen. Jay Costa, and state Sen. Wayne Fontana

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Allegheny County Council District 9

Allegheny County District 9 includes the cities of Duquesne and McKeesport; the boroughs of Dravosburg, Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln, Port Vue, Versailles, West Mifflin, and White Oak; and, the townships of Elizabeth, Forward, North Versailles, and South Versailles. It is currently represented by incumbent Robert J. Macey.

illustrated portrait of Bob Macey

Robert J. Macey

Bio: Resident of West Mifflin. Allegheny County Council vice president. Former employee of the United States Steel Works Mill in Duquesne. Previously served as a board member of the Allegheny County Airport Authority. Serves on board of several Mon Valley area organizations and nonprofits.

Education: Views education and workforce development as high priorities in his district. Disputed claims that Community College of Allegheny County does not receive enough public funding, despite faculty union citing the loss of full-time faculty positions, lacking equipment and facilities maintenance, and increasing debt.

Police: Voted against proposal to create independent civilian police review board in Allegheny County. Also voted against legislation prohibiting Allegheny County Police Department from deploying “less-lethal” weapons like those used against protesters in 2020.

Incarceration: Voted against mandated universal COVID-19 testing at Allegheny County Jail.

Infrastructure: Seeks to improve communities by razing abandoned properties. Proposed funding demolitions in Allegheny County by charging $15 fee to file deeds and mortgages. In PublicSource article, he claimed fee could raise “between $1.9 million and $2.5 million” a year, covering the cost of razing “approximately 167 to 200 blighted properties.”

Supporters: Allegheny County Democratic Committee

illustrated portrait of Seven Singer

Steven Singer

Bio: Steel Valley Middle School teacher. Lives in White Oak. First campaign for elected office. Earned bachelor's and master's degrees from University of Pittsburgh. Affiliated with several education organizations including T.E.A.C.H., a group he co-founded to stop state education budget cuts that affected vulnerable students. Also worked with liberal political group MoveOn.

Education: Focused heavily on funding education at all levels. Told Ballotpedia, "We need to invest in our children through increased education funding from pre-Kindergarten through grade school and college. This includes increasing county funding to community colleges like CCAC."

Police: Supports creating an independent civilian police review board in Allegheny County, according to WESA.

Incarceration: Told Pittsburgh City Paper that Allegheny County Jail is "a mess" in need of real reform. Bothered by lengthy parole system in Allegheny County. If elected, plans to work with other County Council progressives to further criminal justice reform measures, like ending cash bail.

Infrastructure: Cited public transportation as a focus, telling Ballotpedia that it is currently "not equally accessible to the residents of the Mon Valley." Wants more bus routes in his district. According to WESA, said Mon Valley consists of working-class neighborhoods "where we have a lot of people of color. Don't we have a right to public transportation?”

Supporters: Young Democrats of Allegheny County, Steel City Stonewall Democrats

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Allegheny County Common Pleas Judicial Elections

By Colleen Hammond
info@pghcitypaper.com

With nearly 40 candidates running for nine open seats on the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County, this election cycle offers a paramount opportunity to remake the county’s criminal justice system. Common Pleas Judges are responsible for overseeing trials for criminal, civil, and family cases and delivering sentencing. They can also be a part of doling out, or withholding, cash bail. Their discretion can reform the court. Pittsburgh City Paper has chosen to highlight four different categories of endorsements and/or rankings for this year’s judicial candidates: legal, political, reform and LGBTQ.

The legal rankings come from the Allegheny County Bar Association and have four different results: highly recommended, recommended, not recommended at this time (which means candidates could be recommended later, but aren’t currently) and unqualified.

Political endorsements are from two large Democratic Party groups, the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and the Young Democrats of Allegheny County, since many more candidates are filing as Democrats than as Republicans.

A new criminal justice reform coalition, formed earlier this year, is providing endorsements for reform-minded candidates. Members include police-reform group Alliance for Police Accountability, Black-led political group 1Hood Power, statewide prison abolition group Straight Ahead, and UNITE PAC, a political action committee working to get progressive candidates elected. According to the coalition, these candidates have demonstrated a commitment to equitable justice.

Lastly, two of the largest LGBTQ political organizations handed out endorsements for several candidates this cycle. The groups are the Steel City Stonewall Democrats and the Gertrude Stein Club of Greater Pittsburgh.

Voters will be able to select up to nine of the following candidates on the ballot.

Bruce Beemer - Incumbent Common Pleas Judge, Bradford Woods

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Dean A. Birdy - Attorney, North Side

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Pauline Calabrese - Mayor of Penn Hills, Attorney, Penn Hills

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Tom Caulfield - Magisterial District Judge, Forest Hills

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

William Bill Caye - Attorney, South Fayette

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Jason J. Cervone - Attorney, North Side

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Jessel Costa - Attorney, South Side

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Unqualified

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Alyssa Cowan - Attorney, Hampton

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Rosemary Crawford - Attorney, Hampton

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Marc Daffner - Attorney, Greentree

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Anthony DeLuca - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Richard Thomas Ernsberger - Attorney, Oakland

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Brian D. Flaherty - Attorney, Forest Hills

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Unqualified

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Mark Patrick Flaherty - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Ryan O. Hemminger- Attorney, Elizabeth Township

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Nicola Henry-Taylor - Attorney, Ross

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Endorsed

George Heym - Attorney, Squirrel Hill

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Rick Hosking - Attorney, Upper St. Clair

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Elliot Howsie - Incumbent Common Pleas Judge, Churchill

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/ Recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Clint Kelley - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Daniel J. Konieczka, Jr. - Magisterial District Judge, Shaler

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Sabrina Korbel - Attorney, Ross

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/ Recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Endorsed

Brian Samuel Malkin - Attorney, Franklin Park

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Endorsed

Lisa Middleman - Attorney, Franklin Park

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Endorsed

Joseph Patrick Murphy - Attorney, Pine

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Mik Pappas - Magisterial District Judge, Highland Park

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/ Recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/ Endorsed

Chuck Porter - Attorney, Shaler

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Zeke Rediker - Attorney, Squirrel Hill

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/ Recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Matt Rogers - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Giuseppe Rosselli - Attorney, Bell Acres

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Endorsed

Jimmy Sheets - Attorney, Bethel Park

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Beth Tarasi Sinatra - Attorney, Bell Acres

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Tiffany Sizemore - Attorney, Churchill

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Patrick A. Sweeney - Attorney, North Side

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Endorsed

Andy Szefi - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Highly Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Albert Veverka - Attorney, Mt. Lebanon

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Chelsa Wagner - Allegheny County Controller, Point Breeze

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Not recommended at this time

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Endorsed/ Endorsed

Wrenna Watson - Attorney, Hill District

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorsed

Ilan Zur - Prosecutor, Squirrel Hill

• Allegheny County Bar Association rating - Recommended

• Allegheny County Dem Committee/Young Dems of Allegheny County - Not Endorsed/Not recommended   

• Criminal Justice Reform coalition - Not endorsed

• Steel City Stonewall Dems/Gertrude Stein Club of Pittsburgh - Not Endorsed/Not Endorse

Correction (5/5/2021): This story was corrected at 1:30 p.m. to reflect that Tom Caufield and and Patrick A. Sweeney have both been endorsed by the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. Pittsburgh City Paper apologizes for the error.

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Ballot Question Explainer

By Amanda Waltz
awaltz@pghcitypaper.com

A new election means new ballot questions, and the often confusing legal language that comes with them. Below is an explainer to help voters sift through the legalese of the big ballot questions this primary. Five questions will appear on all Allegheny County ballots outside of the city of Pittsburgh, and six will appear on ballots within the city.

Pittsburgh City Ballot Question: No-knock warrant ban

Shall the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter be amended and supplemented by adding a new Article 10: Powers of the Pittsburgh Police, containing Section 1001, which shall bar employees of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police from executing warrants at any residence without knocking and announcing themselves?

This is motivated by the death of Louisville, Kentucky, woman Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in March 2020 after they entered her apartment without prior notice. The initiative would require officers to knock and identify themselves as police when executing a warrant at a residence. After doing so, officers would then have to wait at least 15 seconds for occupants to answer and open the door. The use of body cameras would be required before, during, and after any search, which also goes for any arrest resulting from the search.

Allegheny County Ballot Question: Solitary confinement limit

Shall the Allegheny County Code, Chapter 205. Allegheny County Jail, be amended and supplemented to include a new Article III, as set forth below, which shall set forth standards governing conditions of confinement in the Allegheny County Jail?

This countywide ballot measure is for largely banning the practice of solitary confinement — confining someone in a space for more than 20 hours a day — at the Allegheny County Jail. Wardens would be required to provide monthly reports on the use of solitary confinement and prove why isolation was necessary, even in circumstances like lockdowns or when an inmate posed a threat to others.

Pennsylvania Statewide Ballot Question: Municipal fire department reform

Do you favor expanding the use of the indebtedness authorized under the referendum for loans to volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads under 35 PA.C.S. §7378.1 (related to referendum for additional indebtedness) to include loans to municipal fire departments or companies that provide services through paid personnel and emergency medical services companies for the purpose of establishing and modernizing facilities to house apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, and for purchasing apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, protective and communications equipment and any other accessory equipment necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the fire companies and emergency medical services companies?

State referendum ACT-2020-91 asks whether "municipal fire departments or companies with paid personnel and emergency medical services companies" should be eligible to apply for loans from an existing state program aimed at volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services, and volunteer rescue squads. Currently these entities are not authorized to apply for loans from this program. However, the Pennsylvania General Assembly determined that additional loans are needed for applicants to replace outdated equipment, modernize buildings and purchase new vehicles in order to better serve communities. If approved, the measure would also expand the class of eligible loan applicants.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1

Termination or extension of disaster emergency declarations

If approved, this would amend Article III, Section 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution to allow the General Assembly to "terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration or a portion of such declaration without needing the Governor’s approval." Currently, only the state governor can end a disaster declaration. This proposed amendment would allow a majority of lawmakers to terminate the declaration at any time. This proposed amendment was pushed by state Republicans, who currently control the Legislature, but not the governorship.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2

Disaster emergency declaration and management

This second amendment question, also pushed by state Republicans, proposes adding a new section to Article IV of the Pennsylvania Constitution. If approved, this would, among other things, limit the governor's disaster declaration to 21 days, after which it can be extended.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3

Prohibition against denial or abridgement of equality of rights because of race or ethnicity

The third amendment question proposes adding an amendment to Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution that effectively prohibits "restricting or denying an individual’s equal rights under Pennsylvania law because of race or ethnicity." This guarantees anti-discrimination protections at the state level, separate from the United States Constitution and federal laws.

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