Zappala keeps District Attorney seat after strong challenge

By Rachel Romac, Staff Writer

Stephen Zappala Jr. retained his position as Allegheny County district attorney, defeating independent candidate Lisa Middleman in Tuesday’s elections after she conceded at about 10 p.m.. With 98.6% of precincts reporting, Zappala leads Middleman by about 36,000 votes, 147,610 to 111,689.

Middleman has been one of Zappala’s strongest challengers in the 20 years he has served in office.

At the polls Tuesday, Pitt students largely expressed support for Middleman, who focused her campaign on progressive social and economic reforms. Middleman has criticized Zappala for the March acquittal of former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld in the death of Antwon Rose II, a black, unarmed teenager.

Some voters also criticized Zappala for what they believed to be an unjust acquittal of Rosfeld and went to the polls to vote for Middleman’s more progressive stance in areas of police accountability and prison overcrowding. 

Alex Jones, a senior environmental science major, said he supported Middleman because of Zappala’s role in the Rosfeld trial.

“I am a supporter of Lisa Middleman due to how the shooting of Antwon Rose was handled and our DA did nothing about it,” Jones said, “I don’t really support him in what he’s doing at all and I don’t think that he really upholds the values I have as an American or as a Pittsburgher.”

First-year psychology student Asha Edson said she voted for Middleman because she wanted a more progressive district attorney for the county.

“She seems levelheaded, she seems like she is ready to get involved with the community to make sure her decisions are justified and supported by the community of Pittsburgh,” Edson said.

Local defense attorney Turahn Jenkins challenged Zappala in the May primary for the Democratic nomination, but lost by about 18%.

Middleman secured a high percentage of votes in Pittsburgh, but Zappala ran up a large lead in the rural suburbs of Allegheny County.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.