Blacks vie for office in Clairton, Wilkinsburg and Duquesne

While the mayoral race in Pittsburgh features one African-American candidate, the Wilkinsburg’s race features three. Incumbent John Thompson, who defeated former mayor Wilbert Young in 2005 is facing a rematch against Young and another independent, Ronald Garland Sr.


“Yeah, I hear it’s a three-way race,” said Thompson. “Wilbert is running as a write-in candidate because he was removed from the primary ballot for not disclosing some tax issues. Ron’s running as an independent,” he said. “We have nine new businesses in the commercial corridor. We’ve updated all the police computer equipment and got new vehicles. We have increased our housing stock and the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corp., which I’m president of, has applied for federal Mainstreet Program grants. So I’m happy with the progress. We’re poised for the future.”

Thompson was swept in four years ago on a wave of anti-incumbency and dissatisfaction with how the police department was being managed. Garland, whose campaign is accepting no contributions, said he should be swept out again.

“How do you say its okay as mayor to approve funds for the WCDC that you run,” Garland said. “That’s not a conflict? The whole system’s like that. That’s why it has to go.”

Thompson said he takes no money as president of the WCDC.

Since leaving office, Young, who could not be reached for comment, has been working as a development consultant on projects in both the local market and Louisiana.

After losing in the Democratic primary by a mere 29 votes, Tim Caldwell, another African-American, pastor and funeral parlor owner, is running a write-in campaign to unseat 10-year incumbent Mayor Phil Krivacek in Duquesne.

Krivacek points to the reconstruction of Grant Avenue, the flyover ramp to the RIDC Park, the renovation of the town clock, and the coming $10 million in replacement housing and infrastructure for the now demolished Burns Heights public housing community as his accomplishments.

Caldwell said that’s not enough.

“Knocking down Burns heights and building the flyover—the county did those,” he said. “We need to bring in business. We have a guy who wants to build a facility for after-school programs that will also house a recording studio, and the mayor is fighting it—over parking spaces,” said Caldwell. “The same people have been running the town forever and the African-American community is not taking part in any expansion or growth.”

In neighboring Clairton, Howard Organ is continuing his fight to be the first African-American elected as district magistrate. The district court serves the communities of Duquesne, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek, North Braddock and Chalfant. Organ, who has 23 years experience in the court system as tipstaff to judges Doris Smith and Joseph Jaffe and also served as a juvenile court clerk and was later appointed night court manager by then President Judge Robert Dauer, lost to incumbent Scott Stricker in the May primary election, but is continuing to campaign as a write-in candidate.

“A district justice is the first contact many have with the courts, and most people are terrified, unprepared, and have no representation for their legal matters,” he said. “I am there for them.”

The General Election is Nov. 3. Polls are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

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