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Editorial: Election endorsements

Choose a new type of leader for a new county government

Sunday, October 31, 1999

For voters in Allegheny County, Tuesday's election is a milestone long in the making. After two false starts in the 1970s, a new form of county government was approved last year by the voters, one in which executive and legislative powers are divided between a county executive and a 15-member County Council instead of being commingled in a three-person Board of County Commissioners.

This new form of government is, above all, a break with the past. In that spirit, we have urged Allegheny County voters to choose as their first executive a businessman and civic leader with no stake in the Grant Street of old and a proven record of streamlining and shaking up tired bureaucracies. A man of moderate views, Jim Roddey is passionate about the need to revitalize the Pittsburgh that extends beyond the city limits.

Although he is running as a Republican, Mr. Roddey has demonstrated that he is a consensus-builder who can reach across party lines. That admirable approach to county government puts him on the same page as many of the candidates for the new County Council, an impressive group that takes seriously the Home Rule Charter's vision of a citizen legislature.

By contrast, Mr. Roddey's Democratic opponent, Coroner and former County Commissioner Dr. Cyril Wecht, is a traditional partisan political figure, albeit one who has attained national celebrity as a result of his medical-legal expertise and outspokenness.

Tuesday's election can be a fresh start for Allegheny County - and it will be if county voters choose Jim Roddey.

In addition to endorsing Mr. Roddey, the Post-Gazette in recent weeks has commented on other candidates and issues facing the voters. Following is a recapitulation of those recommendations.

Judicial retention

On Tuesday voters will be asked to approve new 10-year terms for two members of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who have been instrumental in restoring the court's reputation after the imnpeachment and removal of former Justice Rolf Larsen. The Post-Gazette recommends a Yes vote for Chief Justice John P. Flaherty and Justice Ralph J. Cappy.

The Post-Gazette also recommends a Yes vote on the retention of the following judges:

Superior Court Judge James R. Cavanaugh

Superior Court Judge Kate Ford Elliott

Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Hudock

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini

Common Pleas Court Judge Max Baer

Common Pleas Court Judge Cynthia A. Baldwin

Common Pleas Court Judge Robert C. Gallo

Common Pleas Court Judge Paul F. Lutty Jr.

Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey A. Manning

Common Pleas Court Judge Lee J. Mazur

Common Pleas Court Judge Gene Strassburger

Superior Court

Two seats will be filled on this 15-member intermediate appellate court, which hears both civil and criminal cases. The Post-Gazette recommends Debra Todd (Democrat) and Maureen E. Lally-Green (Republican).

Common Pleas Court

Ten candidates are competing for six seats on Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. (One who is not on the ballot is Judge and former District Attorney Bob Colville, though voters might be confused because the judge's son and namesake is seeking election as a Democrat. The Colville on the ballot Tuesday is a 1992 law school graduate whom the county bar association rates as "not recommended at this time.")

The Post-Gazette has endorsed the following Common Pleas Court candidates:

Eugene G. Berry (R)

Kim Clark (D)

Kim Diane Eaton (D)

Frank J. Lucchino (R&D )

Terry McVerry (R)

Gene Scanlon Jr. (R&D)

Four candidates are seeking two seats on Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court. The Post-Gazette recommends:

Al Bell (D)

Tony Marsili (D)

District attorney

Appointed as a temporary replacement for the senior Bob Colville, incumbent Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. (D) has been a diligent and judicious chief prosecutor.

County controller

Pittsburgh Councilman Dan Onorato (D), a lawyer and a certified public accountant, is well-qualified to head the county's auditing operation.

Allegheny County Council

District 1 - Ronald L. Francis Jr. (R)

District 2 - Jan Rea (R)

District 3 - Tom Shumaker (R)

District 4 - Eileen Wagner (D)

District 5 - Vince Gastgeb (R)

District 6 - Mike Crossey (D)

District 7 - William A. Pratt Jr. (R)

District 8 - Charles J. Martoni (D)

District 9 - George DeBolt (Reform Party)

District 11 - Rich Fitzgerald (D)

District 12 - Wayne Fontana (D)

District 13 - Tom Foerster (D)

Pittsburgh City Council

District 9 - Valerie McDonald (D)

Pittsburgh school board

District 2 - Darlene Harris (R&D)

District 8 - Ronald L. Suber (R&D)

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