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Allegheny County Councilwoman Harris challenged by Means in Republican primary

| Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Krista Harris, 28 of Mt. Lebanon.Family: Married to Mark, daughter AbigailEducation: Bachelors’ degree from Susquehanna University in political science and communications; masters in media and public affairs from George Washington University.Political party: RepublicanBackground: Member, Allegheny County Council; Vice-chairwoman, Mt. Lebanon Republican Committee; committee member, Junior League of Pittsburgh; former aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach; former campaign manager for state Sen. Rob Wonderling; former co-chair of the Pennsylvania College Republicans; intern for Bush-Cheney ’04; fundraising director at Cold Spark Media, a political consulting firm co-founded by her husband Mark.
Krista Harris, 28 of Mt. Lebanon.Family: Married to Mark, daughter AbigailEducation: Bachelors’ degree from Susquehanna University in political science and communications; masters in media and public affairs from George Washington University.Political party: RepublicanBackground: Member, Allegheny County Council; Vice-chairwoman, Mt. Lebanon Republican Committee; committee member, Junior League of Pittsburgh; former aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach; former campaign manager for state Sen. Rob Wonderling; former co-chair of the Pennsylvania College Republicans; intern for Bush-Cheney ’04; fundraising director at Cold Spark Media, a political consulting firm co-founded by her husband Mark.
Sue Means Candidate for the 37th PA Senate District   eln election canidate. 2012
Sue Means, 61, of Bethel ParkFamily: Married, five children two grandchildrenEducation: Bachelor’s degree in nursing, West Virginia University, 1974Political party: RepublicanBackground: Political activist for 28 years; volunteered for campaigns of Sens. Rick Santorum and Pat Toomey, and various state candidates; Bethel Park Republican Committee member for 18 years, state Republican Committee for five years; lost state Senate race in 2012; Council of the Friends of South Park member; Greater Pittsburgh homeschooling Workshop and Curriculum Fair organizer; editor of homeschooling newsletter; volunteer for the Girl Scouts and 4-H; organizer of The Bible Chapel’s March for Life.
Sue Means Candidate for the 37th PA Senate District eln election canidate. 2012 Sue Means, 61, of Bethel ParkFamily: Married, five children two grandchildrenEducation: Bachelor’s degree in nursing, West Virginia University, 1974Political party: RepublicanBackground: Political activist for 28 years; volunteered for campaigns of Sens. Rick Santorum and Pat Toomey, and various state candidates; Bethel Park Republican Committee member for 18 years, state Republican Committee for five years; lost state Senate race in 2012; Council of the Friends of South Park member; Greater Pittsburgh homeschooling Workshop and Curriculum Fair organizer; editor of homeschooling newsletter; volunteer for the Girl Scouts and 4-H; organizer of The Bible Chapel’s March for Life.

The race for County Council's District 5 seat pits council's youngest member against an activist who's been involved in political campaigns for all of her opponent's 28 years.

Republican Krista Harris, 28, of Mt. Lebanon is trying to keep the seat she was appointed to in March when Vince Gastgeb resigned. Sue Means, 61, of Bethel Park wants to unseat her in the May 21 primary, where a victory would all but assure a win in November because no Democrat is running.

Harris said she wants to focus on areas in where the state plays a large role: advocating for a statewide solution for property reassessments to bring Allegheny County in line with surrounding counties, and on public transit needs.

“My interest is making sure families, including young families like us, can live and work and stay in Allegheny County. That's a passion of mine,” Harris said.

Means wants to limit County Council members to two terms. She said council needs to provide stricter oversight of Executive Rich Fitzgerald, citing his recently ended practice of requiring appointees to authority boards to give him signed letters of resignation before taking their seats.

“There's a void in leadership. There's a need for people to stand up for what's right. So I'm volunteering for duty,” Means said.

Harris' business interests — she's fundraising director at ColdSpark Media, the political consulting firm her husband co-founded — could conflict with that oversight if it involves politicians her firm works for, Means said.

“Every time I think for a second that maybe she's like me, maybe she's a good person who has the people's best interest at heart, I remember that she works as a political consultant for a company that's notorious for slinging mud,” Means said. “My only agenda is to serve the people, not myself.”

“I think it's unfortunate that Sue is resorting to throwing mud herself. I'm focused on running a positive campaign about important issues like keeping taxes low and keeping an eye on county spending,” Harris said. “I will be an independent voice for my district.”

County Council is a part-time legislative body with four-year terms and a $9,000 annual stipend. District 5 covers Bethel Park, Bridgeville, Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair.

Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or mwereschagin@tribweb.com.

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