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Pittsburgh City Council: Ravenstahl ousts incumbent Burns

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

By Timothy McNulty, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The topsy-turvy world of Pittsburgh City Council is getting even more so.

At least two new members were poised to join the nine-seat body in January after yesterday's Democratic primary.

More Primary 2003 Coverage

• Visit Allegheny County's election page for more details on county races.

• Download a detailed .pdf file of unofficial primary voting results for Allegheny and Westmoreland counties published in the late edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this file.

Tables with primary results for Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties will be published in Thursday print editions of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

• For more reports from around the region on yesterday's primary visit our Elections page


Luke Ravenstahl, a 23-year-old with a North Side political pedigree, defeated incumbent Barbara Burns in District 1.

He will have no GOP opponent in November.

Democrat Douglas Shields, longtime aide to former Councilman Bob O'Connor, handily won the nomination in District 5 over the nearest challenger, Tucker Sciulli.

He will be a heavy favorite in the November general election against GOP nominee Daniel Wiseman, who was unopposed in the primary.

Council, which controls the purse strings of city government, will be changing significantly during cloudy financial days for the city, which faces a $60 million budget shortfall and talk of bankruptcy.

"We need to start looking at fundamental economic ideas we have about budgeting," said Shields. "We have to stop pretending like we have money in this city."

The changes appear likely to alter Mayor Tom Murphy's relationship with council: Shields' former boss was Murphy's main political rival, running against him twice for the Democratic nomination for mayor. Burns was one of Murphy's staunchest allies.

In races for three other Democratic incumbents, Len Bodack Jr. won the District 7 race over Mitch Kates and Nancy Noszka, and Twanda Carlisle handily beat her challenger in District 9, Judith Ginyard.

Gene Ricciardi was unopposed in District 3.

In a special election to fill the seven months left in O'Connor's District 5 term, Democrat Sciulli easily beat Republican Wiseman.

Sciulli, currently executive assistant to Prothonotary Michael Lamb, will serve on council until January, when the winner of the Shields-Wiseman contest will begin a full four-year term.

No other Republican besides Wiseman sought council nominations in yesterday's primary.

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 5 to 1 in the city, and all of its elected officials are Democrats.

Ravenstahl, the District 1 challenger, is the son of District Justice Robert Ravenstahl and the grandson of former state legislator Robert Ravenstahl Sr. He has worked as an account manager at a shipping firm since graduating from Washington and Jefferson College in December.

Burns, 54, has been on council since 2000, taking the place of Dan Onorato, now the Allegheny County controller and candidate for county chief executive.

She served 10 years on the Pittsburgh school board, starting in 1983, and worked for state government and neighborhood redevelopment groups before joining council. She is on the board of the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority.

Bodack, 46, of Stanton Heights, is the son of former state Sen. Leonard Bodack, the county's former Democratic Party chair. Bodack Jr. worked in the party offices for his father before winning a special election in February to replace Jim Ferlo, who took Bodack's former seat in the state Senate.

In District 9 in the city's eastern neighborhoods, Carlisle, 44, of Homewood, won in a landslide over challenger Ginyard of Lincoln-Lemington.

Carlisle won a special election last year to replace her former boss, Valerie McDonald Roberts, now the county's recorder of deeds.

Carlisle started as a council staffer in 1994 for the late Duane Darkins, Roberts' predecessor.

Tim McNulty can be reached at tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.

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