Allegheny County DA Stephen A. Zappala Jr. claims victory over challenger Lisa Middleman |

Allegheny County DA Stephen A. Zappala Jr. claims victory over challenger Lisa Middleman

Natasha Lindstrom
District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. celebrates his victory over Independent Lisa Middleman at an event at Cupka’s Cafe II on the South Side on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.
District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. celebrates his victory over independent challenger Lisa Middleman at an event at Cupka’s Cafe II on Pittsburgh’s South Side on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. claimed a 14 percentage point win Tuesday against his second serious challenger in two decades, unofficial election results showed.

Zappala, 62, a Democrat from Fox Chapel, collected 56.8% of the votes cast, while independent candidate Lisa Middleman garnered 43%, unofficial results showed around 11:45 p.m. with 98.6 of the county’s precincts reporting. More than 35,000 votes separated the candidates.

About 45 minutes earlier, Zappala shook hands and posed for photos with a few dozen supporters at an election night party at Cupka’s II Cafe along East Carson Street in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood.

“This aspect of energy government never stops. There’s always something that needs to be done, and the challenge is what is really rewarding,” Zappala told the Tribune-Review about what another reelection means to him.

He said his top priorities in the term ahead include equipping more police officers with body cameras, making better use of technology among police departments countywide and continuing to increase the use of diversion programs and alternatives to prison time such as drug treatment programs for certain offenses and offenders.

“We have to get body cams on every police department in Allegheny County,” Zappala said. “There’s a lot of discussion around transparency.”

He boasted that Allegheny County already has the most diversion programs of all 67 counties statewide.

The county files about 45,000 cases a year, mostly involving misdemeanors, but many of those cases shouldn’t end up in court, Zappala said.

“In my opinion, there’s still too many cases that are charged,” he said.

Zappala cited the need for the county at large to provide resources and solutions for cash-strapped municipal agencies that can’t afford full-time police. He suggested that the county police consider developing a lower-cost patrol unit to help.

“As a practical matter, Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, Braddock Hills, they can’t afford to police. And they’ve got real crime,” Zappala said. “So we have to have intelligent discussions about having some kind of mechanism that is cohesive.”

Middleman, 57, a county public defender, was the second candidate to try to topple the longtime incumbent’s tenure this year.

Turahn Jenkins challenged Zappala in the Democratic primary in May. Jenkins, who left his post as the chief deputy director of the county public defender’s office to enter the race, took about 40% of the vote.

No Republican competed in the race.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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