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New City of Pittsburgh solicitor's home address in question

| Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 11:37 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.

A Pittsburgh city councilman is challenging Mayor Bill Peduto's choice for solicitor, saying the attorney cannot work for city government because her main residence is in Upper St. Clair.

“She cannot be the solicitor, because she is in violation of City Code and the Home Rule Charter,” Councilman Ricky Burgess said.

But city solicitor Lourdes Sanchez Ridge contends her primary residence is in Shadyside, and her family lives in Upper St. Clair. Kevin Acklin, Peduto's chief of staff, said Sanchez Ridge has complied with all requirements.

Burgess of Homewood, who has battled frequently with Peduto, asked him in a letter Wednesday to withdraw his selection of Sanchez Ridge.

Some of Peduto's top administrators, including Sanchez Ridge, must go through a council confirmation hearing.

Other council members, including Darlene Harris and Theresa Kail-Smith, questioned Sanchez Ridge's residency.

“The administration should have given further consideration to appointing somebody who's already committed to the city of Pittsburgh, already residing in the city of Pittsburgh, already sending their children to schools within the city of Pittsburgh,” Kail-Smith said.

Sanchez Ridge, 52, a former assistant U.S. attorney and assistant state attorney, told council that she didn't want to remove her daughter from Upper St. Clair High School during her senior year.

She and her husband, Robert, purchased a condominium in Shadyside for $111,000 on Nov. 18, according to Allegheny County real estate records. Sanchez Ridge said she eats dinner with her family but spends nights and weekends in Pittsburgh.

“I don't believe there is any statute of anything that says that husband and wife, and the whole family unit has to be in the same place,” she said during the council interview.

Burgess noted that city voters in November voted in favor of a referendum to add a city employee residency requirement to the Home Rule Charter.

“It's clear to me that her domicile is in Upper St. Clair,” Burgess said.

Jacqueline R. Morrow, who served 12 years as solicitor under former Mayor Tom Murphy, said employee residency has long invited controversy.

“There were people who moved their families into the city, and there were people who didn't,” said Morrow, now an attorney for the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education.

Council President Bruce Kraus said he would vote to confirm Sanchez Ridge because she is “transitioning” her primary residence to the city. He said Burgess' objection is unfounded.

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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