Come Tuesday, Nov. 7, voters like you in Allegheny County will be choosing the next Allegheny County Chief Executive.
You’ve seen the TV ads, you’ve (maybe) watched the local TV debates between the two candidates, Sara Innamorato and Joe Rockey.
And now, you’re reading this, your trusted African American media source, the New Pittsburgh Courier, to see what we say about the candidates.
We’ll be honest with you. We think both candidates are viable.
Let’s start with Rockey, who is running on the Republican ticket, but is more so on the moderate, centrist side. He is a retired PNC executive who speaks with the utmost confidence, a man who seems ready on Day 1 to perform the duties as Chief Executive. In the Courier editorial board’s conversation with Rockey, we found him to truly desire the job. He said he understood the many issues that are affecting African Americans in the county, such as affordable housing, a juvenile detention center that reduces recidivism, and a desire to increase the number of African Americans employed at the county level.
Rockey believes there should be a juvenile detention center, such as Shuman, in Allegheny County. He is opposed to a county-wide property tax reassessment, saying it would end up taking more money out of residents’ pockets. He is in support of more police officers, up to a 10 percent increase, to address criminal issues happening in Pittsburgh and around the county. And overall, his numbers have risen some in the polls, we believe, because of his “executive demeanor,” with some labeling Rockey as the candidate that most aligns with outgoing executive Rich Fitzgerald, at least in the “executive demeanor” department. And he has support from another person with that “executive demeanor,” Jim Roddey, who was the county’s first Chief Executive. He won a narrow race on the Republican ticket in 1999.
There is a chance that Joe Rockey could turn out to be the Chief Executive that provides the most economic prosperity for African Americans. He could turn out to produce more affordable housing and have African Americans in all types of high-level positions with Allegheny County.
However…what we do know right now is that his opponent, Innamorato, already has the support of a number of notable African Americans. Innamorato has been endorsed by Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and Congresswoman Summer Lee, two prominent Black political figures. She has the endorsement of Pa. Governor Josh Shapiro. She has the endorsement of another political figure who is well-known in African American circles, Senator John Fetterman, the former Braddock mayor. We believe that Innamorato has been in enough trenches within Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to be more relatable to the African American community.
When we spoke with Innamorato, she pointed out that the county’s MWDBE (Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) program can be enhanced, and she wants to make sure the county’s MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) Advisory Committee has its full allotment of members. She seemed very passionate about making sure that all young people, particularly the Black juveniles who are disproportionately represented in Shuman Center, receive real help and are not just looked at as a number.
Innamorato is in favor of a countywide property tax reassessment and is in favor of raising the minimum wage for Allegheny County workers. She has built alliances with most of the labor unions in the area. She has already prevailed in a May Primary Election in which she won over challengers like John Weinstein and Michael Lamb, so it’s obvious she has support. And the Courier endorsed her in that Primary Election from May.
The Courier believes both candidates would serve Allegheny County well. However, due to her already-established alliances, especially with African American notables whom the Courier has supported from Day 1, in addition to her ability, in our opinion, to be more relatable to the African American community in Allegheny County now and in the long term, we believe Sara Innamorato is the best choice to be the next Allegheny County Chief Executive.
The Courier also supports the re-election of DeWitt Walton for Member of Allegheny County Council District 10, and endorses Matt Dugan for Allegheny County District Attorney.