Polls are closed in Allegheny County following contests for county executive and district attorney.
The office of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald — who is limited by the Home Rule Charter to three terms — reported a handful of early polling place problems which were quickly remedied within hours of the 7 a.m. start of voting.
Headlining the municipal General Election ballot was the expensive, competitive race between Democrat Sara Innamorato and Republican Joe Rockey to replace the Democrat Fitzgerald.
Troy Fisher, a 24-year-old consultant, voted at a polling place Downtown. He said that the name recognition of candidates played a role in his decision-making but added that Joe Rockey, the Republican candidate for county executive, seemed to be more aligned with his beliefs. Fisher, who cited economic stability and improved local commerce as issues he cares about, said that Rockey seemed to be a more moderate candidate.
“Voting is very important to us, both to protect ourselves and our friends,” said Anne Troxel, 29, of Crafton Heights, a member of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ+ community, adding that she voted for Innamorato.
A freelance photographer, she said her strong belief in marriage equality, abortion rights and rights for trans people motivated her to vote, but those issues “are all very interwoven.”
“And it’s not just abortion, it’s really about your right to your body and your right to make choices about it beyond just any singular issue,” Troxel said. “So, you know, I’d say it’s just a really important time to be voting.”
Berthony, a 59-year-old professor at the University of Pittsburgh who asked that his last name not be used, said he voted for the future generation. He said elections are crucial, but the public lacks information about them. He added that his voting was driven by excluding candidates who interfere with individual liberty.
Earlier in the day, both candidates for executive professed confidence in the campaigns they’d run.
“I think [the competitive race] sends a message to the far right and the far left that offering centrist candidates is the future, and it’s what Allegheny County truly wants,” Rockey said after casting his ballot in Ohio Township Tuesday afternoon.
Said Innamorato: “I think that [voters] value experience, that they value pragmatism, but they also value someone who is willing to stand up for issues and a vision that can move everyone forward.” She voted in Lawrenceville shortly after the 7 a.m. opening of the polls.
Voters also weighed in on the future of criminal justice policy in the county with the district attorney’s race, in which incumbent Stephen Zappala — a longtime Democrat who ended up as the Republican nominee due to write-in votes — faced the toughest electoral challenge of his career in progressive Democrat Matt Dugan. Dugan bested Zappala in the Democratic primary in May.
“I want Zappala out because I just feel we haven’t been treated fair,” said Charla Wilson, 44, a nursing assistant from Sheraden who described how the criminal justice system unfairly punishes Black men like her brother, outside the Ascension Catholic Church in Windgap.
She said he spent 22 years in federal prison for possession of 14 grams of crack cocaine due to Pennsylvania’s three-strikes law, which imposes harsher sentences on those who’ve been convicted of multiple offenses.
“And there’s nothing that’s helping rehabilitate our Black men, like everyone deserves a second chance at life,” she said, adding that Zappala’s been in office since 1998, when President Bill Clinton was in his second term.
For his part, Zappala said he’s counting on his pull among the wider electorate.
“Unlike the primary, I think you’re going to hear from the entire public,” Zappala said at the polls. “This time we didn’t get snuck up on. We weren’t outspent 4-1. We stayed with them the whole way, and I think this time you’re going to see a different result.”
Dugan said his campaign “worked as hard as we could work. When we got into this race, we were going to control as much as we could control. … I really feel like we left it all on the field.
“We have an opportunity to do something very very bold here today, to build a criminal justice system that can move the system toward more just outcomes and safer communities,” he continued.
Zappala said he’s “enjoyed every minute” of his quarter-century tenure in the office. “It’s long hours, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It’s an honor.”
At the state level, voters chose a new justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, a race that could impact the future of reproductive rights in the commonwealth, among other things.
Jeh and LaMetrice Dopson went to a Downtown polling place Tuesday evening. The two believe it’s important to vote and make their voices heard — “How can we complain,” if they don’t exercise that right, said Jeh, 62, who is semi-retired. The state Supreme Court race was of particular importance to Jeh, as he and LaMetrice said they care about abortion rights.
Many of the county’s 130 municipalities elected mayors, council members and commissioners, and numerous school board races that were unusually contentious and expensive reached their conclusions.
Amir Jackson, 20, voted for the first time at Dilworth Elementary School in East Liberty. He said he voted to create change. He said voted for Democrats and the local election had a direct impact on the community.
“Not many Gen-Z are showing up. It matters for this election,” he said.
Catherine Jordan, 39, of East Liberty, said she voted for Sara Innamorato and Carl Redwood, who she believes will be good leaders. She said her voting choices were informed by prioritizing abortion rights and the hope for women’s health to be open and available to all. She added she voted for Innamorato because she “will make the right choices.”
Fred Como, a 58-year-old health and wellness coach, said he voted for Republicans to make sure his rights are protected.
“I don’t want the influence of socialists or communists in this country or this city. I see too much of that in the left-leaning candidates,” he said.
This year is thought to be the Republicans’ best shot in many years to win the Allegheny County executive’s office, with an open seat, a well-funded candidate and a Democratic opponent the GOP views as beatable. Innamorato is among the progressive wing of the local party, which has notched big wins in recent years.
Left: Sara Innamorato at a campaign press conference Downtown. Right: Joe Rockey at a campaign event at a South Side V.F.W. hall. (Photos by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)
The Democrats have a 2-to-1 voter registration edge in the county, forming a steep hill for Rockey to climb. But he raised more than $1.6 million from June through October and has blanketed televisions from McCandless to Clairton with ads that play up his business background and never mention the word ‘Republican.’
Voters will also deliver a verdict on Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, who is running to extend his tenure of more than 25 years in that office. He faces off against the Democratic nominee, Matt Dugan, who defeated him in the Democratic primary. Zappala has since accepted the Republican nomination for the job.
On Allegheny County Council, incumbent Democrat DeWitt Walton (District 10) and Democratic nominee David Bonaroti (District 13) are facing spirited challenges from independent candidates Carl Redwood and Sam Schmidt, respectively. Both Redwood and Schmidt identify as socialists.
Elsewhere, Democrats Dan Grzybek (District 5), John Palmiere (District 6) and Paul Klein (District 11) are running to defend the Democrats’ 13-2 majority in the county’s legislative branch. Of the two Republican members, one is running in a competitive race for re-election: Suzanne Filiaggi in District 2. Republican Sam DeMarco and Democrat Bethany Hallam are running unopposed for at-large seats.
In the City of Pittsburgh, five of six races are uncontested. Democratic controller candidate Rachael Heisler and City Council nominees Bobby Wilson, Bob Charland, Barb Warwick and Khari Mosley will cruise to victory. Councilor Deb Gross faces a challenge from an independent candidate, James Miller.
Read coverage from PublicSource and our partners to learn more before you head to the polls.
County executive overview: A generational decision between Innamorato, Rockey
District attorney overview: Why Andrew Yang and George Soros are bringing national heat to the Allegheny County DA race
Allegheny County election results
Mail-in ballot results will be published by the county at 8 p.m. Election Day votes will be reported by precinct, gradually, starting around 9 p.m. Follow @PublicSourcePA on X (formerly Twitter) for updates from reporters, and check PublicSource.org for updates as soon as results are clear.
Charlie Wolfson is PublicSource’s local government reporter and a Report for America corps member. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Through Dec. 31, the Wyncote Foundation, Loud Hound Foundation and our generous local match pool supporters will match your new monthly donation 12 times or double your one-time gift, all up to $1,000. Now that's good news!
Readers tell us they can't find the information they get from our reporting anywhere else, and we're proud to provide this important service for our community. We work hard to produce accurate, timely, impactful journalism without paywalls that keeps our region informed and moving forward.
However, only about .1% of the people who read our stories contribute to our work financially. Our newsroom depends on the generosity of readers like yourself to make our high-quality local journalism possible, and the costs of the resources it takes to produce it have been rising, so each member means a lot to us.
Your MATCHED donation to our nonprofit newsroom helps ensure everyone in Allegheny County can stay up-to-date about decisions and events that affect them. Please make your gift of support now.