Kumanchik keeps spot on primary ballot after court challenge


Photo courtesy of Chris Kumanchik

Pitt student Chris Kumanchik will appear on the democratic primary ballot for the District 3 seat on Pittsburgh City Council after being cleared from challenges on the validity of his petition for candidacy.

By Erica Guthrie, Senior Staff Writer

Pitt student Chris Kumanchik, who is running for the 3rd District seat on Pittsburgh City Council, has been cleared from challenges on the validity of his petition for candidacy and will appear on the Democratic primary ballot.

Challenges against Kumanchik, a senior studying computer science and engineering, were filed by Ken Wolfe, another city council candidate in the 3rd District Democratic primary. Although the hearing for the challenges was originally set for March 28, it had to be rescheduled for April 2 after Kumanchik failed to appear in court.

Challengers to a candidate are required to formally serve the candidate with their challenge, but according to Kumanchik, Wolfe had not served the challenge to him before the original court date.

Kumanchik appeared in elections court on Tuesday to defend his candidacy. Now, the May 21 ballot will feature Kumanchik, Wolfe and incumbent Bruce Kraus, who has been been on the City Council since 2008 and became president of the City Council in 2014.

Senior Judge Joseph James pushed Kumanchik’s elections court appearance, originally scheduled for last Thursday, to April 2 because of concerns that Kumanchik was not served properly with notice of challenge.

“I believe the original hearing had been scheduled for Thursday, but I had not been served and was simply unaware of the details of the proceeding,” Kumanchik said in an email Tuesday.

Kumanchik said Wolfe challenged the validity of the signatures on his petition, but since Kumanchik reached the threshold of 100 valid signatures required to appear on the primary ballot, the challenge was overturned.

Frequently, such challenges concern the validity of those who sign the an individual’s petition for candidacy, Kumanchik said. The most common challenges involve signees not being registered in the candidate’s district or a member of the candidate’s party, but can sometimes concern things like signer’s handwriting.

“In my case, enough of [the signatures] withstood the challenges,” Kumanchik said.

As the May 21 primary nears, Kumanchik has focused on his campaign. He has reached out to the 3rd District’s constituents, who are spread over 12 neighborhoods that include South and Central Oakland.

“Right now I have a team of people doing a lot of canvassing, and I have also been going door to door,” Kumanchik said. “With the challenge out of the way I can continue and increase our efforts to raise money as well, and that is the majority of my campaign.”

When the three candidates reported their campaign finances at the end of February, the Kraus campaign had nearly $40,000, the Wolfe campaign had $461 and Kumanchik had $35, as reported by the Post-Gazette.

Wolfe did not respond to a request for comment before publication.