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Republicans square off in race for County Council seat nomination

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Ed Kress of Shaler, Republican candidate for Allegheny County Council in the May 21, 2013 primary
Mike McMullen of Hampton, Republican candidate for Allegheny County Council in the May 21, 2013, primary.

Two Republican candidates running for a North Hills County Council seat touted their political experience and said they could both effectively work with Democrats despite being in the minority.

Ed Kress, 41, of Shaler and Mike McMullen, 42, of Hampton seek the Republican nomination for the District 3 seat. While they had some similar ideas, they weren't afraid to take shots at each other.

Kress said he would look for new sources of revenue, focus on improving county infrastructure and make sure the Community College of Allegheny County is preparing workers for new industries such as natural gas drilling.

McMullen said he wants to expand the light rail T service through the North Hills to Cranberry and would push state legislators for a statewide sales tax to replace property taxes.

“Are we gearing our workforce to get the correct jobs? We should work with the gas industry,” Kress said.

“And with infrastructure it's important for the economy. If a bridge is out, it's going to take longer to get from point A to point B, and time is money for businesses.”

“I'm looking for conservative solutions and keeping (County Executive) Rich Fitzgerald in check,” McMullen said.

“One of the big things is transportation. I'll be fighting for my district to have a seat at the table on transportation.”

The District 3 seat, which covers Millvale northward — including Hampton and West Deer — is held by Democrat Jim Burn. He is not seeking re-election. Mary Gibson, 29, of Indiana Township, is unopposed on the Democratic ballot. The position pays $9,000 annually.

Kress was appointed to council twice before but lost in the ensuing elections. He also ran unsuccessfully for sheriff in 2007.

“He's lost three times since 2005. He can't win the General Election,” McMullen said.

Kress said he garnered more votes than McMullen for a spot on the Republican state committee in 2010 and that McMullen lost a race for Hampton council. Kress said during his previous stints on county council he was able to push through bills closing property tax loopholes and measures designed to help whistle-blowers in county government.

“I have broad support and I can build a good coalition,” Kress said.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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