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Pittsburgh solicitor confirmed after controversy about her residence

| Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 12:21 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh City Council confirmed Lourdes Sanchez Ridge as city solicitor by an 8-1 vote, with Councilwoman Darlene Harris dissenting.

With one dissension, Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday confirmed Mayor Bill Peduto's pick for city solicitor at the end of a long debate over whether she lives in the city or Upper St. Clair.

“I am convinced that the candidate has reached the threshold that the city required,” Councilman Ricky Burgess said. “I believe the mayor is entitled to select his own solicitor, and she's qualified and competent to serve as solicitor.”

Burgess and several other members last week challenged the appointment of Lourdes Sanchez Ridge, saying her primary residence is in Upper St. Clair.

Sanchez Ridge, 52, has bought a condominium in Shadyside. Her husband and daughter live in Upper St. Clair. City ordinance and the Home Rule Charter require employees to have their primary residence in the city.

Burgess said he voted to confirm Sanchez Ridge once the Law Department determined that proof of residency “depends on physical presence plus intent to make that residence the principal home.”

Sanchez Ridge, who declined comment, told council last week that she dines with her family, but sleeps in the condominium every night and on weekends and intends to live there while employed by the city.

Council confirmed Sanchez Ridge by an 8-1 vote, with Councilwoman Darlene Harris dissenting. Harris said she doesn't believe that Sanchez Ridge has met the requirement because her family and house are in Upper St. Clair.

“By maintaining substantial ties to her family in Upper St. Clair, (she) has not severed ties to her previous township and does not meet the threshold for residency as relied upon by this city for decades,” Harris said.

According to a Law Department opinion, Pittsburgh has previously required employees to offer proof such as a lease agreement or mortgage payment booklet as proof of residency. It also requires two supporting documents, such as a vehicle registration, insurance card or monthly utility bills.

Council President Bruce Kraus said Sanchez Ridge has changed her drivers' license and voter registration.

The mayor's office did not return a call requesting comment.

Earlier, council unanimously confirmed Debra Lam as chief innovation and performance officer. Lam and her husband live Downtown.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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