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DeSantis announces campaign policy team

Mayoral candidate Mark DeSantis on Monday named a seven-member policy team, including former Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, to develop proposals aimed at improving Pittsburgh.

DeSantis, the Republican facing Democratic Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in the Nov. 6 election, said he likely will start paid advertisements in September to increase name recognition, although heavy advertising won't begin until October.

Roddey, 74, of Oakmont, a Republican and one of the region's most successful political fundraisers, said the DeSantis campaign plans to raise $750,000. The last Republican challenger for mayor, Joe Weinroth, raised about $20,000 in the battle he lost in 2005 to Democrat Bob O'Connor. Ravenstahl had raised $713,582 as of June 4.

DeSantis, of Downtown, named Roddey overall policy chairman focusing on "efficiency, effectiveness and transparency in government." Roddey's appointment lends prestige and fundraising clout to DeSantis' campaign, said Morton Coleman, director emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh's Institute of Politics. Overall, the "individuals seem pretty competent" based on their resumes, Coleman said.

DeSantis' bipartisan team includes three Democrats, and only two city residents. Its members will oversee six committees that have been at work for more than two months on key campaign issues, DeSantis said.

In addition to Roddey, DeSantis appointed:

• Ophelia "Cookie" Coleman -- the Wilkinsburg police chief and a former Pittsburgh police detective and officer for 26 years -- as chairwoman of the public safety committee;

• Jim Burnham, of Squirrel Hill -- a distinguished service professor at Duquesne University's Graduate School of Business and a former U.S. executive director of the World Bank and former staff member of the Federal Reserve Board -- as chairman of a committee for "Restoring Confidence in Our Leaders";

• Jim Stalder, of Upper St. Clair -- a former dean of the business school at Duquesne -- as chairman of DeSantis' "Fewer and Fairer Taxes Committee;"

• Shanna Tellerman -- a South Side Democrat and CEO of Sim Ops Studios -- as chairwoman of the sustainable economic development committee;

• Downtown attorney Lourdes Sanchez Ridge, an Upper St. Clair Republican, and Fred Massey, a Democrat from East McKeesport and CEO of FamilyLinks, as co-chairs of the "Bridging the Cultural Divide Committee."

Tellerman, 26, said she wants a leader as mayor.

"Somebody I can trust; somebody I can have confidence in; somebody that I feel like is going to go forward with what they promised. I see that in Mark," she said.

While Morton Coleman said the group strikes a reasonable balance of women and men, minorities and age groups, he was surprised to see no one on the policy team representing the health profession, labor or corporate community. It is odd that just two of the seven live in the city, he said.

"You do want to look at city/regional issues, and that's a good idea, but you would want to see a few more who represent various city interests, because the city does have some unique issues that have to be dealt with," he said.

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