Pittsburghers will have an opportunity to go to the polls for City and county elections in the coming weeks, but the voter registration deadline is closing soon. Pennsylvania residents who wish to vote in the May 21 primary election must register to vote by next Monday.
Voters must be registered as a member of a party in order to vote in its primary. Residents can register to vote and update their name, party affiliation or address on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website. Any forms submitted by mail must be postmarked before the Monday deadline.
Several City and county elected officials will be up for re-election in the 2019 cycle, and several first-time candidates are challenging long-time incumbents as well. Below are the candidates whose districts include Oakland.
Allegheny County Council at-large seat
John DeFazio (D)
DeFazio, the octogenarian president of the County Council, has served in the body since its creation in 1999. A longtime organizer with the United Steelworkers union, he is seeking a sixth term. The Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsed DeFazio by a vote of 836-642.
Bethany Hallam (D)
Hallam, a 29-year-old, joins the short list of those who have challenged DeFazio since his first election. She was prescribed opioids during high school to help with an injury, which led to an addiction she later overcame. Hallam said she could lend a new perspective to the County Council and utilize her personal experience as an ex-addict in crafting solutions to the opioid crisis. State Rep. Sara Innamorato (D-21) and the Pennsylvania Young Democrats are among those who have endorsed Hallam.
Allegheny County District Attorney
Stephen Zappala (D)
Zappala has served as district attorney since he was first elected in 1999 and has faced few challengers since. He recently came under fire from activists due to the acquittal of Michael Rosfeld, a police officer who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Antwon Rose II last June. Zappala’s office was responsible for prosecuting Rosfeld in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas. In a letter to City Councilmember Corey O’Connor (D-5), Zapalla said the Council did not have the proper authority to regulate gun usage within City limits.
Turahn Jenkins (D)
Jenkins is a private criminal defense attorney seeking to unseat Zappala. He launched his campaign on July 2, 2018, the day after the Rose shooting. But days after launching his campaign, Jenkins faced criticism from the Pittsburgh LGTBQ+ community after he referred to homosexuality as a “sin.” According to his campaign website, Jenkins is seeking more engagement between law enforcement and citizens, increased policy accountability and additional training for prosecutors.
Pittsburgh City Council, District 3
Bruce Kraus (D)
Kraus, president of the City Council and the City’s first openly gay elected official, has served on the Council since 2008. He led a successful effort in 2016 to ban conversion therapy for minors, has worked on improvements to the Carson Street corridor in South Side and voted in favor of the recent City Council gun control legislation. Kraus is seeking a fourth term.
Kenneth Wolfe (D)
Wolfe, former chief of staff to Councilmember Kraus, is challenging his former boss. His platform largely focuses on improving government services, such as ending third-party tax collection. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Wolfe owed several thousand dollars in delinquent taxes as of August 2018. In an undated statement on his campaign website, Wolfe said his financial troubles shine a light on the types of problems faced by everyday Pittsburghers.
Chris Kumanchik (D)
Kumanchik, an undergraduate Pitt student and pro-gun rights Democrat, is seeking to unseat Kraus. He told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he believed the City Council’s gun control legislation, which was signed into law last Wednesday, to be in violation of state law.
County Controller Chelsa Wagner (D), County Treasurer John Weinstein (D), County Councilmember-at-large Samuel DeMarco III (R) and City Controller Michael Lamb (D) are running unopposed. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (D) and his general election challenger, Matt Drozd (R), are not facing primary opponents.