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GOP challengers win or lead against Allegheny council incumbents

| Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 11:49 p.m.

Allegheny County Council likely will have two new faces, since two Republican challengers beat or led incumbents on Tuesday.

The incumbent in the lone contested Democratic race held a comfortable lead.

North Hills Republican challenger Tom Baker, 33, of Ross upended two-term incumbent Matt Drozd, 68, of Ross, 53 percent to 47 percent in the race for District 1. Council seats are part-time jobs paying $9,000 annually.

District 1 covers parts of the North Hills and western suburbs, including Findlay, home to Pittsburgh International Airport. Baker will face Democrat Daniel A. McClain Jr., 34, of Ross in November. McClain ran unopposed.

“I think our positive message resonated with voters,” Baker said. “I'm thankful for Councilman Drozd's service, but I think people are ready for a change.”

In the South Hills race to fill the seat long held by former councilman Vince Gastgeb, Republican Sue Means, 62, of Bethel Park led short-term incumbent Krista Harris, 28, of Mt. Lebanon, 63 percent to 37 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Gastgeb, 50, of Bethel Park, resigned in February to take a job with the county Airport Authority. Council Republicans appointed Harris to fill the seat until the end of the year.

With a primary win, Means effectively won the seat because no Democrat is running. District 5 includes Bethel Park, Bridgeville, Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair.

“I am humbled and thankful to have the trust of the voters. It's just the beginning of the hard work,” Means said. “... We borrow too much and spend too much.”

In the Mon Valley, incumbent Bob Macey, 64, of West Mifflin led Arlene Jabbour, 62, of West Mifflin, 63 percent to 37 percent in the Democratic primary with 91 percent of precincts reporting. The District 9 seat includes Duquesne, Forward, McKeesport and North Versailles.

Macey joined council in 2006, when he was appointed to fill the seat of C.L. “Jay” Jabbour, Arlene Jabbour's husband. Macey would face Kenneth Peoples, 41, of White Oak, a Republican who ran unopposed, in November.

“I think the electorate has spoken. I think they're looking for me to continue my good work,” Macey said.

In District 3, which covers Millvale northward — including Hampton and West Deer — Ed Kress, 41, of Shaler led Mike McMullen, 42, of Hampton, 61 percent to 38 percent in the Republican primary with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Democrat Jim Burn holds the seat but is not seeking re-election. Mary Gibson, 29, of Indiana Township, ran unopposed as a Democrat.

The campaign took a nasty tone when McMullen paid for robocalls to constituents accusing Kress of accepting campaign donations from unions. McMullen later apologized for including Kress' personal cellphone number as a part of the call.

“I'm thankful for all the people that helped me out. I'd like to focus on job creation, the natural gas industry and infrastructure,” 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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