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Politics

6 Democrats vie for council seat

| Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2005

At least six Democrats are looking to replace Pittsburgh City Councilman Alan Hertzberg, who is not seeking re-election after serving on council for more than a decade.

The field of candidates could grow even larger in the run-up to the Democratic Party's annual endorsements meeting on Feb. 27. It's not surprising to see a large field of contenders when a longtime incumbent steps aside, said Pittsburgh Democratic Chairwoman Barbara Ernsberger.

The list so far includes a municipal budget analyst, teacher, public works foreman, an entrepreneur, row office supervisor and a retired corporate executive -- all planning their first race for elected office.

"It all sounds good for democracy," said political analyst Joseph Sabino Mistick, a Duquesne University law professor. "You have to wonder, though, why there are no known politicians who have shown any interest in the job."

"This is a very tough time to be on City Council," he said.

Democrats who say they are running for Hertzberg's District 2 seat are: Dan Deasy, 38, of Westwood, a foreman in the city's public works department; Mike Galovich, 45, of Crafton Heights, a supervisor in the Allegheny County Register of Wills office; Paul Mastandrea, 55, of Mt. Washington, a businessman and entrepreneur; Melissa Rossiter, 32, of Mt. Washington, a journalist and a teacher with the online University of Phoenix; Paul Renne, 61, of Mt. Washington, retired chief financial officer of H.J. Heinz Co.; and Bill Urbanic, 43, of Duquesne Heights, senior budget analyst for City Council's budget office.

Sam Berninger, an information technology specialist from Sheraden, has said he will run for the seat as a Republican.

The district includes the neighborhoods of Banksville, Chartiers City, Crafton Heights, Duquesne Heights, East Carnegie, Elliott, Esplen, Fairywood, Mt. Washington, Oakwood, Ridgemont, Sheraden, Windgap, West End and Westwood.

Hertzberg, 47, of Crafton Heights, is in the last year of his third four-year term. He was elected to council in 1993. As council's finance chairman, Hertzberg helped lead its approval of the Act 47 economic recovery plan.

"The last few years of this job have been very stressful and unpleasant," he said. "I've had to deal regularly with city employees who were laid off. I had to deal with children who were literally crying because their swimming pools and recreations centers were closed."

Hertzberg, however, said he is leaving council primarily to pursue "a change in my career path." He is running for Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge, a position he sought unsuccessfully two years ago.

Three other incumbents on council are seeking re-election: Councilmen Jim Motznik, Sala Udin and William Peduto in Districts 3, 6 and 8, respectively.

Republicans expect to field candidates for at least two of those seats. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the city by about 5 to 1.

Candidates have until March 8 to file paperwork for the May 17 primary.

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