Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned once-secure federal abortion rights, a swarm of demonstrators gathered on the steps of the City-County Building, holding up rush hour traffic as they spilled onto the surrounding streets.

Standing atop the portico on that hot June evening, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey vowed to fight alongside them.

“Pittsburgh is for you,” Gainey said. “If you want to get an abortion, come to the City of Pittsburgh.”

Within days, state, county and city lawmakers prepared new bills seeking to shore up abortion protections in their respective jurisdictions.

By mid-summer, local abortion care providers reported a sharp rise in demand as trigger laws in neighboring states sent anxious patients into Pennsylvania, where the right to an abortion 24 weeks into a pregnancy remains intact.

But the June 24 Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling has left this right vulnerable, and efforts by some Pennsylvania Republicans to squash it could hinge on decisions made by voters on Nov. 8.

Standing in the way of their efforts is term-limited Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf, who can veto any anti-abortion laws, confident his opponents will fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to overrule him.

But this could change in January, because state Sen. Doug Mastriano [R-Franklin] is one of two major party nominees seeking to succeed Wolf.  

Mastriano, a retired army colonel, referred to abortion as a “number one issue” during a Republican primary debate earlier this year where he also called for a total ban on the procedure with no exceptions.

One of Mastriano’s first moves after his 2019 election was to introduce a bill outlawing abortions once a heartbeat can be detected. When the bill died he reintroduced it during the following session, and has vowed to keep pursuing it if elected governor.

Mastriano’s opponent, Democrat Josh Shapiro, has meanwhile committed to following Wolf’s hard line of opposition.

“Our Democratic Governor’s veto pen is the only thing standing between us and an extreme, Texas-style abortion ban in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro tweeted shortly before the release of the anticipated Dobbs ruling.

Shapiro has maintained a double-digit lead in polling conducted since September.

Pennsylvania House and Senate candidates are also fitting their stances on abortion into their campaign platforms.

All five Republican nominees for the General Assembly charted in this election guide have positioned themselves as anti-abortion candidates, with some supporting exceptions for parental health, rape and incest. Alongside Mastriano’s tabled Heartbeat bill, Republican lawmakers are pushing a constitutional amendment that would ensure the state has “no constitutional right to taxpayer-funded abortion or other right relating to abortion.” 

But for Republicans, the longtime rallying cry against abortion has become a double-edged sword.

At the national level, many Republican leaders who formerly championed the anti-abortion cause suddenly grew quiet as Dobbs prompted a torrent of Democratic fundraising and a string of polls showing the GOP’s anticipated mid-term resurgence under threat.

In Pennsylvania, Republican politicians have likewise walked back some of their anti-abortion rhetoric in the wake of Dobbs. Before the ruling, Cindy Kirk, an Allegheny County Republican seeking to represent state House District 30, pledged on her website simply to “support the unborn right to life.” But she has since replaced the text with a softer message, stating, “I believe abortions should be safe and rare.”

Other GOP candidates have similarly softened their stances. Even Mastriano  stopped emphasizing the issue after winning the primary. 

A Franklin and Marshall College poll found public support for abortion among Pennsylvanians had reached an all time high this summer, with 89% believing it should be permitted in all or some cases.

As eyes nationwide have locked on Pennsylvania’s tight U.S. Senate race, GOP nominee Mehmet Oz has sought to carve a new image from the Trump-endorsed firebrand who triumphed over establishment pick David McCormick in the primary.

In May, Oz said, “If you think that the moment of conception you’ve got a life, then why would you even wait six weeks? Right, then an in vitro fertilized egg is still a life.”

But in a recent press event in Pittsburgh, the former heart surgeon said he believes abortion law should be set at the state level while modestly identifying as “pro-life.”

Oz’s opponent, John Fetterman, the Braddock-hailing lieutenant governor, has consistently supported abortion rights.

Polling shows Oz has narrowed a ten-point deficit to place himself within striking range of Fetterman, whose campaign has suffered from negative ad campaigns focusing on his recent stroke and his views on criminal justice.

While certainly not the only issue voters are carrying into the polls this year, the altered legal landscape means abortion as an issue weighs in far higher than previous years. Pennsylvania’s unique political makeup, its proximity to states where abortion is largely banned, and its potential to shift the balance in the U.S. Senate only add to this.

But voters are also worrying about inflation, crime, election integrity, guns, education and more. In the following guide, we help put these issues into focus for the races in which you get a say. 

U.S. Senate

Two-term Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey announced his retirement in October 2020, opening this seat. USA Today calls it the country’s “most closely watched Senate race.” Pundits say that this race presents the best opportunity for Democrats to maintain control of the Senate if they can win this tight contest. 

By Jordana Rosenfeld, jordana@pghcitypaper.com

John Fetterman

Bio: Democrat. Grew up in York. Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. since 2019. Was mayor of Braddock from 2006 to 2019. Masters in public policy from Harvard. Previously worked in nonprofit sector. Advocate of criminal justice reform. Had stroke in May, but his doctor said he “can work full duty in public office.”

Economy: Proposes requiring federal construction projects buy domestic goods to create more manufacturing jobs. Says he wants to cut taxes for working families and suspend the federal gas tax. Supports a “financial transaction tax” targeting “Wall Street, hedge-fund managers, and mega-millionaires.”

Cannabis reform: Supports legalizing cannabis on the federal level and Gov. Tom Wolf’s marijuana pardon program. Tweeted on 4/20 that the U.S. should “seriously commit ourselves to full marijuana legalization & ending the racist War on Drugs.”

Abortion: Campaign site says, “A woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is sacred and non-negotiable. Period.” Wants to codify abortion access in federal law and repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits Medicaid from covering abortion. 

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $48.5 million


Mehmet Oz

Bio: Republican. Has never held elected office. Former cardiothoracic surgeon and TV show host. Lived for years in New Jersey. Recently bought home in Montgomery County. Undergrad degree from Harvard, grad degrees from University of Pennsylvania. Veteran of the Turkish Army. 

Economy: Supports increased natural gas extraction to create jobs. Campaign site blames Biden for economic woes. Says we need to “get tough on China.”

Cannabis reform: Implied that legalizing cannabis would worsen unemployment rates. Supportive of medical cannabis. Repeatedly mischaracterized his opponent’s position by claiming that Fetterman wants to legalize all drugs. 

Abortion: Campaign site says he is “100% Pro-Life.” Tells press he does not support criminal penalties for abortion, according to Pennsylvania Capital-Star, but that the federal government should leave abortion laws up to states, according to WGAL.

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $34.8 million


Third Party Candidates: The following third-party candidates will also appear on the ballot for U.S. Senate: Richard Weiss (Green Party — facebook.com/richard.weiss.1485537), Daniel Wassmer (Keystone Party of Pennsylvania — facebook.com/Wassmer4USSenate), and Erik Chase Gerhardt (Libertarian Party — erik4pa.com).

Pennsylvania Governor

Pennsylvania’s governor leads the executive branch of the state government. The governor can veto bills passed by the General Assembly, requiring a two-thirds majority to override. The governor also staffs state agencies. Current Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has reached his term limit and is not eligible to seek re-election.

By Jamie Wiggan, jamie@pghcitypaper.com

Josh Shapiro

Bio: Democrat. Current Pennsylvania attorney general. Previously served on Montgomery County Commission and in the state House. Led the 2018 grand jury investigation into Catholic Church sexual abuse.

Abortion: Defines abortion as health care. Has pledged to veto any legislative efforts to restrict abortion rights in Pennsylvania. Filed an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Justice Department’s challenge to an early-term abortion ban in Texas.

Energy: Vows to invest in clean energy. Believes policies can protect the planet without threatening jobs. Celebrates Pennsylvania’s “energy powerhouse” status as an exporter of electricity and natural gas. Encourages public investment in renewable energy research.

Voter rights: Vows to veto efforts to restrict mail-in voting. Supports automatic voter registration and expansion of early voting. As attorney general, opposed former President Donald Trump’s challenges to Pennsylvania’s 2022 election results.

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $49.8 million


Doug Mastriano

Bio: Republican. Current state senator. Former U.S. Army colonel. Combat veteran deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Former NATO intelligence leader. Holds a PhD in history. Lives in Franklin County.

Abortion: Strong opponent of abortion. Sponsored a bill in 2019 seeking to ban abortions in Pennsylvania after a heartbeat is detected and continues to push for its passage. Pledges to cut funding to Planned Parenthood and expand counseling for adoption services.

Voter rights: Aggressively pursued former President Donald Trump’s debunked claims he lost the 2020 election because of voter fraud, marched on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and was shunned by members of his party for his efforts to spearhead investigations of the state election. Pledged to eliminate mail-in voting and implement voter identification requirements.

Energy: Supports broad deregulation of energy sectors, including coal and natural gas. Calls for removing Pennsylvania from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that works to reduce carbon emissions. Introduced a bill this year that would favor applicants for gas and oil industry permits.

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $4.7 million


Third Party Candidates: The following third-party candidates will also appear on the ballot for governor: Christina DiGiulio (Green Party — facebook.com/PKforPA), Joseph Soloski (Keystone Party of Pennsylvania — joesoloski.com), and Matt Hackenburg (Libertarian Party — matthackenburg.com). 

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor

The lieutenant governor steps in if the governor can’t complete the term, presides over the state Senate and chairs the Board of Pardons. Incumbent Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election and is currently running for U.S. Senate.

By Alice Crow, info@pghcitypaper.com

Austin Davis

Bio: Democrat. Grew up in the Mon Valley. Graduated from University of Pittsburgh with political science degree. Has served since 2018 as the first Black state representative in the 35th District. Former aide to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Currently serves as chair of the Allegheny County House Democratic Delegation, among other positions. 

Abortion: Supports the right to abortion, like his gubernatorial running mate Josh Shapiro. As a state representative, Davis co-sponsored bills to require insurance companies to cover abortion services in full and to change the state constitution to include personal reproductive liberty. 

Economy: Has stated that a Shapiro-Davis administration would “invest in workforce development to grow our economy.” Says Pennsylvania has “the lowest minimum wage in the region” and will work to provide workers “a fair and living wage.” Pledges to create new jobs by attracting businesses to Pennsylvania. 

Crime: Told City & State PA he will dedicate more resources to police officers, as well as continue to issue pardons on a case-by-case basis as chair of the Board of Pardons. Wants to clarify with voters that pardons go to people who have already served their sentences. Celebrated the launch of a Police Misconduct Database, saying it would create “accountability in policing.”

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $3,165,265


Carrie DelRosso

Bio: Republican. Native of Scranton. Attended University of Pittsburgh. State House member for District 33. Owned a public affairs and marketing company. Served on Oakmont’s borough council for three years. Lives in Oakmont. 

Abortion: Voted to pass a bill including an amendment declaring abortion is not a constitutional right. Co-sponsored a bill to require a funeral or cremation for abortion remains. Her running mate Doug Mastriano has said he would ban abortion, without exception, if elected. 

Economy: Describes herself as pro-growth and pro-jobs. Tells WTRF the first step in supporting economy is opening up energy sector. Claims the private sector is being “strangled by arbitrary closures, high taxes and overregulation.”

Crime: Says “the madness in Philadelphia is spreading to other cities and towns” in Pennsylvania due to weak prosecutors. Pledges to support law enforcement by fully funding them. Has posted support for bills to “protect law enforcement from assault” and to “make it harder for criminals who continue to offend in prison to be released on parole.”

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $2.1 million


Third Party Candidates: The following third-party candidates will also appear on the ballot for lieutenant governor: Michael Bagdes-Canning (Green Party — facebook.com/michael.bagdescanning), Nicole Shultz (Keystone Party of Pennsylvania — nicoleshultz.com), and Timothy McMaster (Libertarian Party — tim4pa.com).

U.S. House District 12

District 12 includes the entire city of Pittsburgh, many southern and eastern Allegheny County suburbs, and the western edges of Westmoreland County. This race will determine who will replace U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle [D-Forest Hills], who announced his retirement last fall. 

By Jordana Rosenfeld, jordana@pghcitypaper.com

Summer Lee

Bio: Democrat. In 2018, became the first Black woman from Southwestern Pennsylvania elected to state House. Born and raised in North Braddock. Howard University School of Law graduate. Founded UNITE PAC to support other progressive candidates, particularly women, LGBTQ candidates and candidates of color. Won re-election in 2020.

Climate Change: Told WESA she would “fight for a Green New Deal to transition to a 100% clean and renewable energy economy and bring green union jobs back to PA-12.” Also concerned about “marginalized communities facing the brunt of environmental racism.” 

Policing and public safety: Introduced state-level legislation proposing police reform in 2019. Supports universal background checks, banning assault weapons, and ending protections for corporate gun manufacturers, according to WESA. Emphasizes the connection between gun violence and poverty. 

Abortion: Says we “must keep abortion safe and legal in Pennsylvania at all costs.” Tells WESA she wants to codify abortion rights at the federal level, expand access to reproductive health care, and repeal the Hyde Amendment. 

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $1.3 million


Mike Doyle

Bio: Republican. Not the retiring Democrat Mike Doyle. President of Plum Borough Council, member since 2005. Bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from King’s College. Website describes a 34-year career in insurance and notes that under his leadership “Plum Borough routinely has budget surpluses,” which he used to decrease taxes and invest in police and infrastructure. 

Climate Change: Campaign website says, “Mike believes that Energy Independence IS National Security and the Green New Deal will destroy our region.” Wants to “produce our own” fossil fuels. Supports carbon capture, according to WESA

Policing and public safety: Campaign website says he “will support our police and first responders protecting our communities.” Also emphasizes the need to “secure our border,” according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Told WESA he does not support additional gun control legislation. 

Abortion: Told WESA he would support a federal abortion ban that includes exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. 

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $124,250

U.S. House District 17

Currently occupied by Conor Lamb [D-Mt. Lebanon], who forfeited his re-election bid to pursue an unsuccessful U.S. Senate race. District includes a swath of suburban Allegheny County and all of Beaver County.

By Jamie Wiggan, jamie@pghcitypaper.com

Chris Deluzio

Bio: Democrat. Navy combat veteran. Graduate of Georgetown Law. Labor and voting rights lawyer. Policy director at Pitt Cyber. Volunteer at Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania and the Veterans Consortium.

Abortion: Calls women’s reproductive choices “a basic human right.” Supports Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine this in federal law and also supports state bills to codify abortion rights. Says he’ll “fight like hell to protect our fundamental rights, including the right to an abortion.” Believes in expanding reproductive health coverage as part of a larger push for affordable health care access.

Economy and Jobs: Labor advocate and supporter of the PRO Act, a federal bill seeking to expand workers’ rights to organize. Supports anti-trust legislation to rein in corporate power. Argues policies incentivizing American manufacturing could boost the ailing middle class.

Environment: Supports clean energy investments and stricter regulations on carbon emissions. Encourages natural gas production as a viable energy source in the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. Argues clean energy can support middle-class jobs, stating on his website, “we all deserve clean air and water and strong union jobs.”

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $2.4 million


Jeremy Shaffer

Bio: Republican. Business owner. Electrical engineer. Graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. Former president, Ross Township Board of Commissioners. Former board member for Northland Library Foundation and Northern Tier Library.

Abortion: Supports “pro-life” policies with exceptions for life threats to mothers, rape, and incest. Pledges to fight state funding for all forms of elective abortion. Pledges to increase resources to “support women and families with high quality of care and family support services.”

Economy and Jobs: Supports a deregulated market economy as an economic driver, noting on his website, “politicians don’t create jobs, businesses do.” Pledges to slash “red tape” and streamline the “burdensome and complex tax system.” Calls out both socialism and corporate monopolies as “major threats to America’s prosperity.”

Environment: Calls for “responsible” environmental protections. Argues technological advances allow for a clean environment and good jobs. Pledges support for investments in the preservation of national parks, which he deems “national treasures.”

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $2.2 million

State Senate District 38

District 38 covers several communities in northern Allegheny County including Pittsburgh’s 11th and 12th wards, Ross, McCandless and parts of New Kensington. Incumbent Democrat Lindsey Williams is running for re-election against Republican Lori Mizgorski, a House member who no longer resides in the district she represents because of redistricting.

By Jordana Rosenfeld, jordana@pghcitypaper.com

Lindsey Williams

Bio: Democrat. Elected 2018. Duquesne University law graduate. Previous minority chair of the Senate Education Committee. Currently serving on transportation, labor and housing committees. Before entering politics, worked for the National Whistleblowers Center, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. 

Education: Recently introduced legislation to create a permanent free meal program for all Pennsylvania public school students. Voted against May 2019 proposal to provide more money to parents opting out of the public school system. Supportive of increased funding for public schools. 

Infrastructure: Has touted funding for infrastructure projects in her district and updates to the region’s water infrastructure, while pushing legislation to reform billing through the Turnpike’s E-Z Pass system.

Abortion: In July 2022, voted against a proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion in Pennsylvania. In June 2022, said, “I will always stand for a woman’s right to healthcare, and that includes abortion.”

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $313,217


Lori Mizgorski 

Bio: Republican. Current state representative for District 30, elected 2018. Undergraduate degree in English. Lifelong resident of Shaler and previous township commissioner. Serves on House committees for transportation, labor and local affairs. Longtime board member of Shaler North Hills Library. Previously chief of staff for former state Rep. Hal English. 

Education spending: In May 2019, voted to increase the value of tax credits available to parents opting out of sending their children to public school. Referred to Gov. Wolf’s proposed 2022-2023 budget, which included what Wolf called a “generational investment” in public education, as “fiscally irresponsible.”

Infrastructure: Told TribLIVE that she would focus on using federal funds for infrastructure repairs. Says she advocated and secured grant funding for clean waterways and stormwater management in Shaler as a commissioner. Appointed to 2019 Republican taskforce to evaluate problems in the state’s transportation sector. Member of the Pittsburgh Regional Transit board of directors since 2019. 

Abortion: In July 2022, voted in favor of  proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion in Pennsylvania. Previously voted to require a funeral or cremation for abortion remains and to prohibit abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Reported fundraising since January 2021 $19,620

State House District 23

Long held by Democratic incumbent Dan Frankel, the district is considered safe territory for his party. It spans several eastern city neighborhoods, including sections of Squirrel Hill, Shadyside and Oakland. Green Party candidate Jay Ting Walker also sought the seat in 2018 and 2020, securing 9% and 14% of the vote respectively.

By Jamie Wiggan, jamie@pghcitypaper.com

Dan Frankel 

Bio: 24-year incumbent. Chairs House health committee. Former insurance agent. Claims to have made his political debut by giving a speech for the 1968 Democratic presidential nominee at age 12. Holds leadership positions in LGBT Equality Caucus, PA SAFE Caucus, and the PA Women’s Health Caucus.

Abortion: Describes himself as “one of the fiercest champions” of women’s reproductive rights. Former co-chair of Women’s Health Caucus, a group of Pennsylvania lawmakers pursuing policy that “protects and respects women’s health, including the right to make private, personal medical decisions.”

Energy: Describes hydraulic fracturing as a “risky process” that should be discouraged. Calls reliance on fossil fuels “unsustainable” and pushes for green energy investments. Has introduced bills calling for greater state oversight of fracking harms and for closing loopholes in oil and gas industry regulations.

Gun law: Gun reform advocate. Calls for universal background checks, raising minimum firearms purchasing age to 21 and banning assault-style weapons. “Any rational person can see that deadly weapons should be regulated at least as much as, say, swimming pools or lawnmowers.”

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $41,600


Jay Ting Walker

Bio: Community organizer and activist. Co-chair, Green Party of Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh Democratic Socialists member. Previous state House candidate. Transit advocate with BikePGH.

Abortion: Identifies as “pro-choice” on his campaign website. Stated in a 2020 platform questionnaire abortions should be allowed under “all circumstances” and indicated support for taxpayer and government funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

Energy: Calls hydraulic fracturing an “immediate danger to local air and water quality” and supports a total ban on the practice. Supports funding for renewable energy, investments in a “green economy” and retraining fossil fuel industry workers for new jobs in wind and solar energy.

Gun law: Supports a ban on “military-style assault weapons” and large magazines, and universal background check requirements. Notes gun deaths disproportionately impact neighborhoods of color and advocates for policies that address underlying conditions of inequality and poverty.

Reported fundraising since January 2021: None reported

State House District 30

The newly redrawn House District 30 covers Franklin Park, McCandless, Emsworth, Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights and parts of Kilbuck, Ohio and Hampton. Once reliably Republican, the new district has added Democratic constituencies that could make it more competitive.

By Jamie Wiggan, jamie@pghcitypaper.com

Arvind Venkat 

Bio: Democrat. Emergency doctor at Allegheny General and Forbes Hospitals. Political newcomer. Former president of the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians. Research director at US Acute Care Solutions. Seeking to become Pennsylvania’s only state representative of South Asian descent.

Abortion: Supports abortion rights, drawing on his medical experience, where he recalls treating a woman “who had a back-alley abortion.” Says he will vote for bills supporting abortion. “I will never forget her suffering and do not want to see that happen in Pennsylvania,” according to his website.

Energy: Supports a regulated fracking industry. Told WESA the state should “set a framework for rigorous environmental regulations” that would still leave some of the decisions with local municipalities. Calls climate change a “real” and “serious” issue.

Voter rightsTold WESA that he supports no-excuse mail-in voting, early in-person voting, same-day registration and open primaries. “Our democracy works when every eligible voter participates and when voters pick their political leaders, not the other way around,” he said.

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $508,404


Cindy Kirk 

Bio: Republican. Former Allegheny County Council member. Nurse administrator at UPMC Oakland. Former dialysis nurse. Has served on several boards and committees including Northland Library Foundation and SWPA U.S. Air Force Academy Parents Association. 

Abortion: Previously included a statement on her website, pledging simply to “protect the unborn right to life.” Has recently softened her messaging by identifying as “pro-life” while supporting exceptions for parental health and victims of rape and incest.

Voter rights: Supports stricter voting requirements. Calls for “a common-sense voter ID requirement”.

Energy: Names “responsible energy development” as a top priority of her candidacy.  Said in a statement announcing her resignation from council that public parks have benefitted from profits derived by fracking operations under the land.

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $38,006

State House District 33

District has shifted significantly east following 2021 redistricting. Now includes Alle-Kiski Valley communities of Aspinwall, Sharpsburg, Fox Chapel, Harmar, Springdale, East Deer, Tarentum, Brackenridge, Fawn, Indiana and part of O’Hara. Republican incumbent Lori Mizgorski was eliminated from the district by the new maps.

By Alice Crow, info@pghcitypaper.com

Mandy Steele 

Bio: Democrat. Fox Chapel resident and council member. Co-founder, Fox Chapel Parks Conservancy. Founder, Goats for Girls. Green infrastructure advocate.

Abortion: Believes the constitutional right to privacy entitles women to make decisions on their reproductive health. Pledges to uphold abortion rights if elected. 

Environment: Advocates for an eventual transformation to 100% renewable energy in the state. Supports efforts to reduce methane leaks from fracking, but not a total ban. Helped pass a ban on coal tar — a hazardous byproduct of coke production — as a Fox Chapel council member.

Economy: Calls for union clean-energy jobs and green infrastructure projects. Believes budget cuts to Port Authority have hampered economic development. Supports additional transit investment.  

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $60,839


Ted Tomson

Bio: Republican. Business owner and entrepreneur. Unsuccessfully ran for state Senate in 2002. Penn State and Carnegie Mellon University graduate. Longtime Fawn resident.

Abortion: Endorsed by anti-abortion group LIFEPAC. Opposes abortion rights but supports exceptions in instances of rape, incest, and life of the mother.  

Environment: Advocates for further production of coal, oil, and natural gas to foster growth. Believes fostering “a good working relationship” between regulators and energy sector can boost production without compromising clean air laws. 

Economy: Believes rebuilding infrastructure through government and private industry will lead to a revitalized commercial sector, locally.  Believes growth in regional manufacturing would bring more “high-disposable-income jobs.” 

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $34,504

State House District 39

State House District 39 stretches across a mix of suburban and rural communities in southern Allegheny County and northern Washington County. Incumbent Rep. Mike Puskaric [R-Jefferson Hills] lost the Republican primary. 

By Alice Crow, info@pghcitypaper.com

Rick Self

Bio: Democrat. Self-employed. U.S. Army Veteran and South Park resident. Former political action director for the Local 1843 Steelworkers Union and previously served as township auditor. Founding member of the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee. 

Abortion: Pledges he will support and protect women’s rights during his time in office, and pledges to oppose abortion bans in the state legislature. Argues Roe v. Wade should be codified in federal law.

Labor: Pro-union. Supports increasing the state minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15. Pledges he’ll fight to ensure thriving wages and flourishing small businesses.

Election Integrity:  Wants to protect the right to vote by mail and in-person. Sees mail-in voting as a safe and convenient option for voters, especially seniors. 

Reported fundraising since January 2021: None reported


Andrew Kuzma

Bio: Republican. Attorney. Resides in Elizabeth Township. Graduate of University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. Former township commissioner.

Abortion: Responded affirmatively to a candidate survey that asked whether he supported an amendment to the state Constitution “to prevent taxpayer funding for elective abortions.”

Labor: Opposes raising state taxes. Pledges to enact policies that will promote steel and energy jobs. Has not outlined a position on minimum wage.

Election Integrity:  Believes in “commonsense election reform.” Wants to enact policies to restore confidence in the election process. 

Reported fundraising since January 2021: $35,138

Ballot Questions

By Amanda Waltz, awaltz@pghcitypaper.com

Ballot questions can present challenges for voters seeing them for the first time on election day. Often full of confusing legal language, the questions deserve time and consideration ahead of Election Day. This year all Allegheny County residents will be asked whether they believe county council members should be allowed to retain their seats while running for other offices. Wilkinsburg residents will also be asked whether they want to establish a home rule study commission. 

Allegheny County: Home Rule Charter ballot amendment

The Question: Shall Article III, Subsection 6(b) of Allegheny County’s Home Rule Charter be repealed in order to allow Members of County Council the same freedom of right to seek other elected office as is accorded to all other independently elected officials in Allegheny County, such that Council Members are permitted to run for nomination or election to elected office other than that of County Council Member without first having to resign from County Council?

The Home Rule Charter requires county council members to resign from office before they are able to run for any federal, state, county, or local elected office. The charter, including the rule, was originally approved by voters on May 19, 1998, and became effective Jan. 1, 2000.

The proposed amendment would repeal the rule, allowing council members to keep their seats while running for other offices. 

Wilkinsburg Borough: Proposed Home Rule Charter Government Study Commission question

The Question: Shall a Government Study Commission of seven members be elected to study the existing form of government of the municipality, to consider the advisability of the adoption of a home rule charter and, if advisable, to draft and to recommend a home rule charter?

The ballot measure would create a seven-member commission to review and advise on whether the borough should adopt its own home rule charter. Supporters, including neighborhood group Wilkinsburg Future, see this as an alternative to a movement in support of annexation of the borough by Pittsburgh.

If approved, the commission “will be staffed by seven commissioners elected on the same ballot and funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development [DCED] and the Borough of Wilkinsburg,” according to Wilkinsburg Future.

As reported by TribLive, supporters of the measure believe the potential home-rule charter would offer more control over local government and increase access to grants to fund services in Wilkinsburg. The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corp., which has led the annexation efforts, is urging voters to reject the commission.


Correction (10/26/22): Democrat Mandy Steele’s position on fracking was mischaracterized in an earlier version of this story.

Illustrations by Lucy Chen.

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