ShareThis Page
State Sen. Jim Ferlo won’t seek re-election |

State Sen. Jim Ferlo won’t seek re-election

Melissa Daniels
| Tuesday, November 12, 2013 5:21 p.m
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Jim Ferlo arrives at the IBEW in the South Side on Sunday, March 10, 2013, for the Allegheny County Democratic Committee's endorsements.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo announced on Tuesday he will not seek re-election in 2014, citing changes to his district under the recent legislative redistricting plan.

“It’s not politics; (it’s) no grand conspiracy by friend or foe,” Ferlo, a Democrat from Highland Park, said on the Senate floor, where he called redistricting a commonplace process in state government and dubbed himself an “in-your-face advocate” for change.

The 38th District that Ferlo has represented since 2002 took on new contours under legislative redistricting and will include the northern portion of Allegheny County. Most of it will cover an area in the more Republican-leaning 40th District, represented by Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler.

Democratic Sen. Wayne Fontana’s Brookline-based district will absorb parts of Ferlo’s district, Ferlo said.

Ferlo, 62, declined to detail plans but pledged to keep serving on the board of the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority.

“We’ve been able to try to respond above and beyond the call of duty to help people, and I’m proud of that,” said Ferlo, who forged a reputation for his outspoken, sometimes outraged demeanor in Harrisburg. “I like to speak from the heart with some level of passion because that’s how I think through issues — from a common-sense approach.”

In a prepared statement, Ferlo said he would release a stormwater management vision for Pittsburgh, focus on Social Security and Medicare reforms, and push legislative goals in his final year in office. He vowed to the Tribune-Review that he will keep raising concerns about Marcellus shale drilling.

“I have always found him to be very accessible,” said Karen Snair, executive director of the Harrison-based Allegheny Valley Association of Churches. She sent a homeless mother to Ferlo’s Harrison office this week to seek help with food stamps.

His long history in Pittsburgh politics began with his election in 1987 to Pittsburgh City Council, where he served for 14 years — including two terms as the council’s president. In the Senate, he serves as minority chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, and minority vice chairman on the Appropriations Committee.

Democratic leaders have talked with a number of people who might be interested in pursuing a party nomination to succeed Ferlo, said Aren Platt, executive director of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. He would not specify how many.

“At this point, the focus is on Senator Ferlo,” Platt said.

Dave Majernik, the vice chairman for the Republican Committee of Allegheny County, called Ferlo’s exit an opportunity “for fresh blood and fresh ideas.” He was unaware of any declared GOP candidates for the seat in 2014.

Ferlo “has a big-government mentality and an us-versus-them type of (belief) that’s sort of anti-business,” Majernik said. He said that approach “drives jobs away from this area.”

“It’s people like Senator Ferlo who have fomented that type of attitude and driven people away,” Majernik said.

But Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, called Ferlo a strong advocate for community and economic development, saying his colleague helped spark urban redevelopment in Pittsburgh.

“I do think there’s a segment of our community who feel their voices will be weakened because Jim’s leaving the state Senate,” Costa said.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or Staff writers Kari Andren and Adam Smeltz contributed to this report.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.