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Voters finding little traffic at polling places today

| Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There were no worries about waiting in lines this morning.

Unlike the general election in November, voters found little traffic at polling places across the city as they cast their ballots in the primary election.

Election officials expect more than 240,000 people to vote today in Allegheny County in primary races ranging from school boards to a state Supreme Court seat.

County Elections Division Manager Mark Wolosik predicted about 33 percent of registered Democrats and 23 percent of registered Republicans would show up at the polls.

"Last November, there were 80 candidates on the ballot. This year, we have over 3,000," county Elections Division Manager Mark Wolosik said.

Pittsburgh Democrats are choosing whether Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, 29; Councilman Patrick Dowd, 41; or attorney Carmen Robinson, 40, deserves the city's top job. Democrats outnumber Republicans 5-to-1 in the city, and the Democratic nominee has won every mayoral race since the 1930s. Squirrel Hill Republican Josh Wander is seeking the 250 write-in votes he needs to get on the November ballot.

Many voters in the South Side and Squirrel Hill said they were looking for change in the mayor's office.

Lois McClain, 58, of the South Side said she voted for Dowd because she thinks Ravenstahl is too young.

"I truly feel that he is the public face of the city, but more seasoned politicians are making the decisions," she said. "I feel like they should be running, but since they aren't, I feel like someone else should be in (office)."

Larry Rubin, 65, of Squirrel Hill voted at Colfax elementary school like he does every election but said he wasn't as interested in the mayoral race as he has been in the past.

"I wasn't really excited about any of them," he said.

Mario Cutruzzula Sr., 72, of Bloomfield said he never considered voting for anyone but Ravenstahl.

"He's been our man," Cutruzzula said. "He's been helping our city come back to life."

Robinson is the first woman to run in a mayoral primary since 1993, Wolosik said. That year, Kathy Matta, formerly of Squirrel Hill, ran unopposed on the Republican ballot and then lost to Tom Murphy in the general election.

Matta, 61, who now uses her married name Klingelhofer, moved to Fox Chapel seven years ago. She hasn't closely followed the mayor's race but said she's pleased to see Robinson running.

"I think the women are the ones that have to go down there and change Pittsburgh, not the party," Klingelhofer said.

Pittsburgh's first and only female mayor, Sophie Masloff, served from 1988 to 1994.

Election Court at the City-County Building, Downtown, also was quiet. By 9:45 a.m., only four calls had been fielded — none involving serious issues, officials said.

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