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Former police officer challenges Ravenstahl

A former Pittsburgh police officer said Friday she will run against Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in the May Democratic primary.

Carmen L. Robinson, 40, of the Hill District is the first person to challenge Ravenstahl publicly. She created a campaign committee Nov. 25 that allows her to begin raising money.

Robinson said she believes she can unseat Ravenstahl, 28, of Summer Hill with a grassroots campaign that won't rely on a huge war chest. Ravenstahl has said he expects to have $1 million in his campaign accounts by year's end.

"I am not getting into this race just to make a statement," Robinson said. "I think the environment right now is geared toward someone like me. If I can raise money and have a pure grassroots approach, it will work. I am targeting voters, not people with money."

A spokesman with Ravenstahl's campaign did not return a call seeking comment.

Robinson said she resigned in 2004 after 15 12 years with the police bureau and earned a law degree from Duquesne University in 2005. Robinson has worked for three years as a clerk in Family Court for Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Dwayne D. Woodruff.

She said her "blue-collar roots" as a police officer will appeal to voters. She hopes to attract small businesses to Pittsburgh and increase the number of city police officers to try to lower the homicide rate. As of Friday, 77 homicides have occurred in the city this year.

In 1997, the city settled a sexual harassment lawsuit Robinson filed three years earlier against the city and three of her superiors. The settlement allowed her to remain on paid disability while receiving a salary through April 1, 1998. Robinson claimed the alleged harassment caused stress-related health problems. She began collecting disability benefits and went on medical leave in late 1994.

Robinson said she plans to formally announce her campaign Jan. 9.

Ravenstahl became mayor after Bob O'Connor died in September 2006. He was elected in November 2007 to finish O'Connor's four-year term.

The primary is May 19.

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