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Lawyers Gibson, Kress vie in Allegheny County Council race

Aaron Aupperlee
| Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Two lawyers with experience in political office will square off for the open District 3 seat on Allegheny County Council.

Republican Ed Kress, 41, of Shaler has served on council before. Democrat Mary Gibson, 30, of Indiana Township is running for her first elected position.

Councilman Jim Burn decided not to seek re-election.

“I can try to connect people to resources. That is one of my larger strengths,” Gibson said. “That's one of the things I hope to accomplish, if I get on county council, is to really connect people with the resources that they are looking for.”

Gibson, business-risk analyst and corporate counsel for Giant Eagle, stumbled into her first political post.

Her sister, voting in her first election in 2004, wrote in Gibson's name for every race on the ballot. “I figured she'd be the best,” Regina Gibson said of her sister Mary.

That one vote was enough to win Gibson the job of judge of elections of Indiana Township, a position she held until 2009.

She served on county Executive Rich Fitzgerald's courts administration vision team, an experience that showed her areas at the courthouse that need fixing and updating. Gibson knows improving access to court records is not a “sexy” issue, but it is an essential service the county needs to provide.

Kress, a lawyer focusing on estates, wills, trusts, personal injury and assessment appeals, was appointed to county council in 2005 and 2011. He lost the seat in elections immediately after his appointments.

He said he would work to maintain law and order in the county, improve infrastructure and drum up ways to raise additional revenue to keep taxes down.

“First of all, I'll be generating new ideas, but there is a lot of follow-up needed,” Kress said.

While on council, Kress proposed legislation to clean up waste and fraud. He pitched selling naming rights to parks and bridges — an idea Fitzgerald floated to county council when he presented his budget this month.

Getting back on county council would allow Kress to follow up on initiatives he started a few years ago. He proposed a study of advertising on the county's bridges, wanted the county to track 911 calls involving government subsidized housing, and encouraged the county to verify that it was not awarding contracts to companies employing illegal immigrants.

He does not think the county has exhausted all available additional revenue streams, and he would oppose any tax increase until it does. He said the current makeup and environment on council will be more accepting of his ideas to bring in additional revenue.

“They're doing a lot of things I suggested in 2005,” he said.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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