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Candidates push pet projects

For a primary race that drew some of the biggest dollars in Allegheny County Council history, the issues the candidates for District 6 are running on this fall are notably tame.

Democrat Joan Cleary, a registered nurse from Brentwood, received nearly $140,000 from the Service Employees International Union for her primary run.

She has made increasing the Homestead Exemption and preserving the county’s level of health care services her top priorities in the November election.

Republican Linda Book, a Whitehall councilwoman, has said she would try to match Cleary’s war chest for the November election.

Her focus is on bringing economic development money to the Route 51 corridor and opening a satellite office somewhere in the district.

Neither side would say how much they’ve been able to raise for the race thus far.

The two are vying for the $9,000-a-year post that encompasses Baldwin Borough, Baldwin Township, Brentwood, Castle Shannon, Clairton, Jefferson, Pleasant Hills, South Park, West Elizabeth and Whitehall.

In each of the party’s pet projects — row office reform for Republicans and a revamped property tax system for Democrats — both candidates offered similar views.

Both said they support row office reform of some sort; Cleary did not offer specifics, but Book said she would support Chief Executive Jim Roddey’s proposal to reduce the number of elected offices from 10 to four.

“When I’m out talking to people, they are not really worried about row office reform, they’re worried about there being too few jobs and health care being too costly,” Cleary said.

Both also say there needs to be a change in the way the assessment office is run.

Book said she believes the county’s property assessor should continue to be appointed, but the candidate should be approved by county council.

“It would be a good idea to have the best candidate approved by county council to make sure all the guidelines would be met,” Book said.

Cleary said she could see the pros and cons of both an elective office — an idea proposed by current county council Democrats — and an appointed office, but did not say which, if any, she supports.

As the city deals with a projected $40 million deficit, both candidates for county chief executive have said they support some merger of city and county services to save money. The candidates for District 6 agree.

Cleary said the idea of merging the training academy for police officers and firefighters made sense, but she has yet to research what services could be consolidated.

“The bottom line is that you have to get the work done and see what makes the most sense so that no one is short-changed,” Cleary said.

Book’s ideas mirrored some of Roddey’s proposal, which includes a consolidation of county parks maintenance and supply purchases. Democrat Dan Onorato, who is vying to unseat Roddey, has yet to release his proposal for consolidation.

“It’s common sense to me and most of the people I talk to,” Book said. “Everything can be consolidated.”

Candidates

  • Joan Cleary

    Age: 51

    Political party: Democrat

    Address: Brentwood

    Personal: Son Brian, 31

    Education: Diploma from Shadyside Hospital School of Nursing and bachelor’s degree in nursing from La Roche College

    Experience: No previous elective office; registered nurse

    Issues

    Joan Cleary says she will:

  • Increase the Homestead Exemption and reduce property taxes for senior citizens through Act 77. Most candidates support these measures.

  • Work to maintain the level of service offered by the county department of health and human services. County council can only disburse the money it is given by the state and federal government.

  • Linda Book

    Age: 47

    Political party: Republican

    Address: Whitehall

    Personal: Single

    Education: Took paralegal courses at Robert Morris College and courses in journalism and political science at Point Park College

    Experience: Elected to Whitehall Borough Council in 2001; aviation administrator for private charter company

    Issues

    Linda Book says she will:

  • Open a satellite office in District 6. There are few constituent services county council offices provide.

  • Bring economic development money to the Route 51 corridor. The county has contributed economic development money to this area in the past.


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