Allegheny County executive candidates spar over taxes
An Allegheny County executive debate Thursday night started out pretty civil.
Then the other candidate showed up.
Republican D. Raja, 45, of Mt. Lebanon had the stage at Robert Morris University to himself for about a half hour, while his Democratic opponent, Rich Fitzgerald, 52, of Squirrel Hill, made his way out to Moon from a county Democratic Party dinner Downtown.
The first question after Fitzgerald arrived was whether the candidates would support a gas extraction tax. Raja answered by attacking him for an e-mail Fitzgerald sent to gas company executives browbeating them for not donating enough to his campaign.
Raja took it a step further, saying Fitzgerald was offering to trade county contracts for campaign contributions. Such an offer was not in the e-mail.
"It's just a flat-out misstatement," Fitzgerald said.
Asked whether they agreed on anything, the best the candidates could come up with was that they both didn't want people to flee the region. Raja accused Fitzgerald of resorting to negative attacks to distract from his record. Fitzgerald accused Raja of hiring "two of the sleaziest (campaign) operatives in this area, Mark Harris and Mike DeVanney."
"I think it shows the desperation of a candidate that's run out of ideas and that can't run on his record," said Harris, who managed U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's campaign last year.
On the environmental impacts of shale drilling, Fitzgerald said he "would use the full force of the (county) health department" to guard against environmental damage by natural gas drillers. He also said the state should levy an extraction tax on drillers - something Raja said he supports as well.
Raja garnered applause from the 26 people in the studio audience when he promised to repeal the drink tax. Raja has said he has identified the $30 million in cuts from the county budget he'd need to offset the loss of drink tax revenue, but he has declined to disclose them, saying he wants to bring it to county department heads first.
"If you're going to make these cuts, you've got to lay it out," Fitzgerald said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Steelers still knockin’ on Canton’s door
- Review: Pittsburgh son Billy Porter shines bright in ‘Kinky Boots’
- McKeesport charter sees no problems for opening
- Mon Valley takes time out for night out to build community
- Rostraver native revisits roots on cross-country bike journey
- Pitcher Arrieta, Cubs shut down Pirates in victory at PNC Park
- Heyward-Bey looks to make impact on special teams with Steelers
- Fire displaces Kittanning family of 6
- Philanthropist and one-time GOP powerhouse Elsie Hillman dies at 89
- Kittanning’s South Water Street lane changes are permanent
- Annual Rock for Life to benefit 2 area children