As candidates line up, Pittsburgh District 8 city council special election date set

As candidates line up, Pittsburgh District 8 city council special election date set

Author: Stephen Caruso/Friday, January 5, 2018/Categories: Pittsburgh

The special election to fill Pittsburgh’s newly vacant District 8 city council seat has been set for March 6.

The election date, first reported by The Incline, is the latest in a chain of events triggered by the resignation of Mayor Bill Peduto’s former chief of staff, Kevin Acklin, in early December.

Acklin, who served for Peduto’s entire first term, resigned Dec. 7 to find a more lucrative job, which he found as chief counsel for People’s Natural Gas, a local utility company.

Peduto then announced that Gilman would replace Acklin as his chief of staff on Dec. 19.

Gilman previously served as Peduto’s chief of staff when the mayor was councilman for the very same District 8 seat, which covers many of the city’s affluent East End neighborhoods, from Shadyside to North Squirrel Hill to Point Breeze.

In his new position, Gilman, who has just been reelected to a second term as councilman, will now once again become Peduto’s top lieutenant as the mayor pursues a 2030 plan that aims to invest $1.5 billion, from public and private sources, into everything from free pre-k education to low rent storefronts in struggling business districts.

With Gilman’s resignation, the City Council will now function one seat short, with eight members, until March 6.

The open seat already has three announced candidates vying for the seat — former Gilman chief of staff Erika Strassburger, local restaurateur and chef Sonja Finn, and LGBT rights activist Marty Healy.

Both Strassburger and Finn took to social media to announce their candidacies within hours of Gilman’s announcement as the new chief of staff.

In a press release sent out in early January, Strassburger, made her case, who previously worked as an environmental activists before working for Gilman, made her case as the candidate to follow up on her former boss’s legacy.

“I am excited for the opportunity to build on the great work we’ve done over the past four years in our City Council office,” Strassburger said. “We worked hard to increase transparency and accountability from city government, help revitalize our neighborhoods with our vibrant communities initiatives, and make public safety a top priority. I’m proud of everything we accomplished. I want to grow these good works and begin more new initiatives.”

In an interview with The PLS Reporter in December, Finn held up her time in the restaurant industry, the new top employer in Pittsburgh, as a main credential for her to join council.

Both Strassburger and Finn plan to compete for the Democratic nominations, though Finn made it clear she would run as an independent if she didn’t receive the party nod.

Per the city charter, the election date was named after the city council president issued a directive to the city clerk’s office for a writ of elections. Upon the writ’s issue, the election has to be held within the next 60 days.