Local elections 2019: Everything you need to know


Theo Schwarz | Senior Staff Photographer

Students vote at Posvar Hall during the 2018 elections.

By Mary Rose O'Donnell, Contributing Editor

Early November is a busy time for Pitt students, as midterm exams are often in full force in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and finals. Luckily, voting in the general election this Tuesday, Nov. 5, is one excuse to skip out on studying for a few minutes.

For citizens who need to reorient themselves, Pennsylvania voters can find their polling locations online at pavoterservices.pa.gov by entering their address in the database. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and anyone who is in line when the polls close is entitled to vote.

Here is a rundown of a few major local elections appearing on the ballot today.

Allegheny County Executive

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has not faced an opponent in a midterm election since he first became county executive in 2011. Fitzgerald, a Democrat, has spent his past two terms working to increase job creation and, according to his website, has communicated with directors of various governmental departments to find ways to make work more efficient to save tax dollars. He has also aimed to improve public transportation, promote diversity and inclusion and increase job-specific training throughout the county.

Fitzgerald ran unopposed in 2015, though this year he will face an opponent in the form of Republican Matt Drozd. Drozd was an Allegheny County Council member from 2005 to 2013. According to his website, he has “never voted to raise your taxes and never will.”

Allegheny County District Attorney

Lisa Middleman is running against longtime incumbent Stephen A. Zappala Jr. in the race for Allegheny County District Attorney.

Middleman, who is running as an independent, has worked as a criminal defense attorney in the Public Defender’s office for the past 30 years. Her platform is focused on issues such as mass incarceration, racial justice, police accountability and the end of cash bail.

Zappala, a Democrat, has served as Allegheny County District Attorney since 1998. Over the course of his 21-year tenure, he created Pennsylvania’s first domestic violence unit and animal cruelty unit, as well as the county’s first child abuse and elder abuse units. His priorities include using the latest technology — such as surveillance cameras — to keep the county safe, and improving reintegration into society for recently released offenders.

Allegheny County Controller

Democrat Chelsa Wagner has served as Allegheny County Controller since 2012. During her time as controller, Wagner’s priorities have included examining the county’s property reassessments and improving invoice payment processes.

Republican candidate Brooke Nadonley acquired her spot on the ballot through a successful write-in campaign back in May. Nadonley is a member of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County and is the chair of their 2nd District City Committee. She is a gun rights activist and was in the news in February for filing petitions calling for Mayor Bill Peduto’s impeachment after he announced a proposed a city-wide assault weapons ban.

Pittsburgh City Council – District 3

Independent candidate Jacob Nixon will run against incumbent Democrat Bruce Kraus for a seat representing District 3 on Pittsburgh’s City Council.

Kraus has been a City Council member since 2008 and has served as its president since 2014. As a councilman, Kraus has supported renovation projects of various Pittsburgh neighborhoods and worked to improve public safety efforts — specifically in the City’s nightlife — as well as transportation. He is the first openly gay Pittsburgh elected official.

Nixon is a former construction worker and father of two. He is a member of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local 37 and an associate director of development for the Pennsylvania College Access Program. According to his website, if elected, his focus as councilman will be on parking issues in Oakland and South Side, fixing flooding problems and keeping Pittsburgh college students working in the City after graduation.

Home Rule Charter Amendment for Parks Trust Fund (aka Parks Referendum)

The Parks Referendum asks voters if they are in favor of increasing property taxes and using the money to fund local parks via the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, a private nonprofit organization. If passed, property taxes would be increased by 0.5 mills — $50 per $100,000 of assessed real estate value.

Pennsylvania Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment

The Pennsylvania Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment is a referendum that, if passed, would add a section with crime victims’ rights to the Pennsylvania constitution declaration of rights. These proposed amendments include providing crime victims with notification of the release or escape of the accused, timely notice of public proceedings involving criminal conduct and the ability to be present at all public proceedings involving the accused.

Though this question will be on the ballot, voters will not know the results until a future date. This is due to an injunction filed by Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler last Wednesday blocking the ability to count the vote until there is a ruling in the lawsuit League of Women’s Voters of PA and Haw v. Boockvar. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this order was affirmed on Monday, Nov. 4 by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and votes will not be tallied until the lawsuits are complete.