Democrat Austin Davis wins state House special election in Mon Valley
Democrat Austin Davis won a special election Tuesday to represent the Monongahela Valley in the state House.
Davis, 28, of McKeesport, received 73 percent of the vote, or 3,159 votes, with all 84 precincts reporting, according to unofficial results.
"I feel good," Davis said by phonefrom his victory party of about 200 people gathered at The Palisades event hall in McKeesport. "It was a resounding victory.
"It's a mandate that people want an effective state representative who's going to deliver results."
Among his top priorities as a freshman in the General Assembly: expediting job growth in the Mon Valley, reforming the state's charter school law and finding more state resources to improve roads, bridges and transit systems.
Republican Fawn Walker-Montgomery, 38, of McKeesport claimed 26 percent of the vote, or 1,124 votes.
Walker-Montgomery did not return a request for comment late Tuesday.
Nearly 41,000 voters were registered in the election, and 4,327 ballots were cast. That's a turnout rate of 10.6 percent.
At the St. Rita School and Parish polling location in Munhall, about 65 of nearly 700 registered voters cast ballots — more than some polling officials had expected amid the special election's unusual timing, noted Connie Garrison, judge of elections at the site.
"That's why I came out, quite frankly — every vote counts, I think," said Downtown labor and employment law attorney Michael Pavlick, 52, of Munhall, who was among the last to cast his vote before polls closed at 8 p.m.
He said he voted for Walker-Montgomery because she's a Republican: "The Democratic predecessor has been such a failure, and I kind of think we need a change."
Davis will replace former 35th District state Rep. Marc Gergely, a White Oak Democrat first elected to the seat in 2002.
Gergely resigned Nov. 6 after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to his role in an illegal gambling machine ring.
Gergely, 48, was sentenced in December to 18 months of house arrest and three years of probation.
The 35th Legislative District includes McKeesport, Munhall, White Oak, Clairton, Duquesne, Versailles, Whitaker, Lincoln, South Versailles and part of West Mifflin.
Davis is a vice chairman of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and assistant to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. He received endorsements from the Allegheny County Labor Council and Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council.
In a debate earlier this month , Davis emphasized he would make jobs his top priority, saying that he would be a salesman for the valley and would promote state investments in infrastructure in the region.
Staff writer Wes Venteicher contributed. Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.