Former U.S. Senator staffer Chris Rosselot to challenge Darlene Harris for council seat
A former staffer for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey announced plans Thursday to challenge Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Darlene Harris in the 2019 Democratic primary election for her North Side council seat.
Chris Rosselot, 38, of Spring Garden said council District 1 under Harris’ reign has lacked leadership and collaboration with other city offices and government agencies.
“It’s time for a change, I think, for the district,” Rosselot said. “I feel with my background and experience, I’m ready to take on that role.”
Harris, 65, of Spring Hill said she plans to seek a fourth term but declined comment on Rosselot’s assertions.
Rosselot said he worked as an aide to Casey, D-Scranton, from 2006 through 2013 and focused on regional issues, including economic and community development projects. He currently works from home as an independent economic development consultant. He’s married and has a son and daughter, ages 7 and 9.
He previously worked as a paralegal at a Downtown law firm.
He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Northern Iowa, which he attended on a baseball scholarship, and a masters in public policy from the University of Pittsburgh.
He’s never held elected office but serves on Pittsburgh’s 23rd Ward Democratic Committee. He’s also served as a volunteer with the Community Alliance of Spring Garden East Deutschtown.
If elected, he would work to promote better collaboration and harmony between the council office and other government and community agencies, Rosselot said. He said he is planning an election launch party on Jan. 10 at the Troy Hill VFW post and would stage community meetings dubbed “Coffee with Chris” at local coffee shops to meet constituents. He’s also created a campaign website .
“I have a campaign committee set up,” he said. “I’m just continuing to plug away and build my campaign.”
At least two other North Side residents have announced plans to run against Harris. One of them — Jeff Betten of Troy Hill — said he’s canceled his campaign. Quincy Kofi Swatson, 27, of East Allegheny is the other candidate. Swatson could not be reached for comment.
Harris has held the council seat since winning a special election in 2006. She’s won three consecutive four-year terms since then and was a candidate for city mayor in 2013 before dropping out of the race. She has clashed frequently with Mayor Bill Peduto over budgeting and political issues.
Five Pittsburgh council members representing odd-numbered districts are up for election in 2019. In addition to Harris, they include council President Bruce Kraus of South Side, Corey O’Connor of Swisshelm Park, Deb Gross of Highland Park and Ricky Burgess of North Point Breeze.
Council representatives serve four years and will be paid $68,066 in 2019.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.