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Peduto, Fitzgerald support opposing candidates in County Council race

| Friday, May 12, 2017, 10:45 p.m.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Councilman Jim Ellenbogen, D-Banksville.
Democrat Robert Palmosina, who is challenging Ellenbogen for the District 12 seat on Allegheny County Council.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are supporting opposing candidates in Allegheny County Council's only contested Democratic primary race.

Fitzgerald's campaign committee gave $3,000 to Jim Ellenbogen, who has been on council a decade, according to campaign finance reports.

Peduto's campaign gave $3,000 to Ellenbogen's challenger, Robert Palmosina, whom Peduto fired as assistant public works director a day after the mayor took office in January 2014. Palmosina had worked for Pittsburgh's Department of Public Works for 32 years. Two other assistant public works directors were fired.

Palmosina, who now works as Collier's public works director, filed a federal lawsuit in March 2014 claiming he was fired for supporting Jack Wagner, Peduto's opponent in the Democratic primary. The city settled the lawsuit in February 2015 for $55,000.

Peduto's campaign manager Keyva Clark declined comment for this story, but at the time of Palmosina's firing, Peduto denied that politics played a role.

Palmosina could not be reached. Fitzgerald did not return a call seeking comment.

Ellenbogen and Palmosina, both Democrats from Banksville, are running for the District 12 seat. The district covers Pittsburgh's southern neighborhoods, the West End and portions of the South Hills.

“I think (Fitzgerald) appreciates that, like him, I try to move things forward in the county. We've been successful,” Ellenbogen said.

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsed Palmosina, a ward chair who cast a vote in favor of endorsing himself. Ellenbogen said he did not seek the endorsement .

Between Feb. 25 and May 1, Palmosina raised $26,460, spent $10,279 and had $16,180 on hand, according to campaign finance reports. From Jan. 1 to May 1, Ellenbogen raised $8,175, spent $6,166 and had $15,780 in the bank.

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

Ellenbogen has filed a federal lawsuit against the department, alleging he was fired improperly.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, tclift@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tclift.

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