Ellenbogen faces challenger in only Allegheny County Council primary race |

Ellenbogen faces challenger in only Allegheny County Council primary race

Theresa Clift
Allegheny County Councilman Jim Ellenbogen, D-Banksville
Democrat Robert Palmosina, who is challenging Ellenbogen for the District 12 seat on Allegheny County Council.

For the first time in 10 years on Allegheny County Council, Jim Ellenbogen will face a challenger in the primary election.

Ellenbogen is the only county councilman being challenged this spring. Banksville Democrat Robert Palmosina, Collier’s public works director, is making a run for Ellenbogen’s District 12 seat.

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsed Palmosina — a ward chair who cast a vote in favor of endorsing himself — while County Executive Rich Fitzgerald endorsed Ellenbogen.

Ellenbogen said he did not seek the committee’s endorsement.

“That endorsement is not a reflection of the voters in this district,” he said. “It’s just a joke.”

Ellenbogen, who chairs council’s Public Safety Committee, said during his time on council, the county has hired more police officers, added a station in Wilmerding and reinvented the police force.

“People have defined me as a common-sense councilman who’s not afraid to speak up for the right issues,” Ellenbogen said. “I’m not a wallflower.”

Ellenbogen said he was the only Democrat on council to vote against the politically charged 10 percent drink tax in 2008.

Formerly chief enforcement officer for the state Department of Revenue, Ellenbogen is no longer an employee there, said Kevin Hensil, a department spokesman.

Ellenbogen declined to discuss his departure, saying he is in the process of filing a lawsuit against the department.

Palmosina worked for Pittsburgh’s Public Works department for more than 30 years before being fired in January 2014.

He filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was fired for supporting Jack Wagner, Mayor Bill Peduto’s opponent, in the Democratic primary. The city settled with Palmosina in February 2015 for $55,000.

Palmosina, who started in Collier in April, said he is looking for a way to give back to the community — an opportunity he misses about his job at the city. If elected, he said he plans to learn the needs of staff and residents, then put forth legislation to address those needs.

“I’m not a regular politician,” he said. “I will stick to my guns and truly look at the issues.”District 12 includes Pittsburgh’s southern neighborhoods, the West End and portions of the South Hills.

The primary is May 16.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669 or [email protected].

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.