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It’s official: It’s a 3-candidate race for Pittsburgh mayor |

It’s official: It’s a 3-candidate race for Pittsburgh mayor

| Tuesday, March 7, 2017 8:39 p.m
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Bill Peduto, the Democrats' nominee, talks with Trib reporters and editors at the Trib offices in the North Side on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.
Jasmine Goldband
Pittsburgh City Council president Darlene Harris finishes a city council meeting, Downtown, at the City-County Building March 13, 2012. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Penn Hills Progress
Rev. John C. Welch

Mayor Bill Peduto will face two opponents in the Democratic primary in his bid for re-election, according to nominating petitions filed by Tuesday’s deadline.

Peduto said he filed petitions with 3,939 signatures. The Rev. John C. Welch, dean of students for the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the city’s head police chaplain, said he collected nearly 1,000 signatures. City Councilwoman Darlene Harris said she picked up about 500 signatures, twice the number required to get on the May 16 ballot.

No Republicans filed nominating petitions. Pittsburgh hasn’t had a Republican mayor in more than eight decades.

“We’re going to sprint all the way to the finish line and cover as much territory as we can in the city of Pittsburgh,” said Welch, 56, of Homewood. It’s time for new leadership, somebody that has not been tied into the political machine in the past.”

Welch said he wants to work to provide more affordable housing, particularly in places like the East End, where thousands of low-income residents have been displaced by high-end development. He said he is determined to spread economic growth to areas that haven’t traditionally benefited from development. He also wants to work to improve community-police relations.

Peduto, 52, of Point Breeze has been involved in politics since his 20s and served on city council for 12 years before becoming the city’s 60th mayor in 2014.

Peduto did not return a message from the Tribune-Review, but campaign manager Keyva Clark said the large number of signatures is a “reflection of the enthusiasm that voters are feeling about the direction of the city.”

Peduto is coming off a weekend in which he received the Allegheny County Democratic Committee’s endorsement by defeating Harris in a 372-245 vote. Welch did not seek the committee’s endorsement.

Harris, 64, of Spring Hill is a former school board president who has served on city council since 2006. She said she is confident she can build on the support she received from the Democratic committee.

“I’m pretty well known in the city as being a worker. I’ll be a full-time mayor in the city of Pittsburgh. I won’t be flying around all over the place,” Harris said, taking a dig at Peduto for his frequent travels. Peduto has defended such travel, noting that it has helped Pittsburgh draw national and international recognition and tens of millions of dollars in grant money for the city.

In other races, five people are running for city council in District 4: Democrats Mark Johnson, Gary McBurney, Ashleigh Deemer and Anthony Coghill; and Republican Cletus Cibrone-Abate. Deemer is chief of staff to Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, who opted not to seek re-election.

Three city council incumbents — Theresa Kail-Smith, R. Daniel Lavelle and Dan Gilman — are unopposed.

There is one contested primary race for Allegheny County Council: Democrat Robert Palmosina is challenging incumbent Jim Ellenbogen in District 12. Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen faces a challenge from George Satler in the Democratic primary.

Four of five voting districts with open seats on the Pittsburgh Public Schools board have contested primary races.

People will be able to begin reviewing petitions by Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning in the county’s Elections Division on the sixth floor of the County Office Building, 542 Forbes Ave., elections manager Mark Wolosik said. March 14 is the deadline to file challenges to nomination petitions.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or

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