Now that the midterms are over, all eyes are on Allegheny County’s top prize in 2023: the county executive’s office.
Many candidates have put their names in the running to be the county’s chief executive – a top executive branch role. The Allegheny County executive approves and vetoes legislation, oversees administrative departments, helps develop an annual budget and submits ordinances and other proposals to Allegheny County Council for consideration.
Voters will select party nominees for county executive on May 16 with the general election slated for Nov. 7. Below are all the candidates who will appear on the ballot this May in the primary races to replace current Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
Theresa Sciulli Colaizzi
Former school board member
Theresa Sciulli Colaizzi was a surprise addition to the final list of candidates on the ballot for this May’s primary elections for Allegheny County executive. “I surprised you, didn’t I?” she told the Pittsburgh-based radio station WESA after making the ballot. Colaizzi was formerly on the Pittsburgh Public Schools board, but retired in 2013. She told the station that when she saw the other candidates seeking the Democratic nod, she realized she had the “energy and experience” to run for county executive.
Sara Innamorato, a two-term, progressive state representative, is looking to make the jump from state lawmaker to county executive after four years representing the 21st House District. At her campaign launch, Innamorato pledged to bring down costs, expand access to housing, create jobs in renewable energy and address the root causes of crime. Innamorato promised to bring a “responsive, efficient, transparent and user-friendly government” to the county if elected.
Trial lawyer and former member of Allegheny County Council
Oakmont resident Dave Fawcett announced his campaign for Allegheny County executive on Dec. 15, hoping to put his skills as a trial lawyer and former Allegheny County Council member to use in a new role. In a statement announcing his candidacy, Fawcett said he would bring “battle-tested leadership” to the county executive’s office, and listed job creation, further developing the region’s transportation systems and reducing gun violence as some of his top priorities.
Pittsburgh City Controller
No stranger to politics in Allegheny County, Michael Lamb has served as Pittsburgh city controller since 2008, making him the city’s top financial watchdog. He also served as Allegheny County prothonotary – a position he successfully lobbied to eliminate – and ran unsuccessfully for Pennsylvania auditor general in 2019. In a recent interview with WESA, Lamb touted his ability to “unite different interests” and reflected on his work to reform government in the region. As for what sets him apart from other candidates, Lamb said he has “the perseverance and the persistence to get something done.”
Entrepreneur Will Parker will be on the ballot in the Allegheny County Executive race this spring. As the creator and CEO of the VendSpin, a convenience store delivery app, Parker is hoping that a new venture is right around the corner. Parker, who is running as a Democrat, says on his campaign website that he will prioritize “smart business,” equality and equity, as well as education and infrastructure if elected county executive. On his website, Parker writes that he will place a “focus on growing a stronger economy for all.”
Allegheny County Treasurer
Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein is hoping that his record handling the money in Allegheny County will pay off in the race to replace Fitzgerald. Weinstein has been elected to six straight terms as treasurer – serving in the office since 1999. In his campaign speech, Weinstein said his experience in county government sets him apart from the rest of the field. “I understand how to govern. I understand county government better than anyone,” said Weinstein. Combating crime and improving infrastructure will be two of his biggest priorities, he said.
Former PNC executive
Joe Rockey, a retired PNC executive who formerly worked as a chief risk officer for the company, announced he will seek the GOP nomination for county executive – and he’s positioning himself as the moderate in the room. In his campaign launch remarks, Rockey touched on his father’s history as a union Democrat and vowed to address poverty, crime and homelessness as county executive. “Bringing the middle together is how we get things done and grow our economy for every family,” he said.
Member of Allegheny County Council
A local organizer and member of Allegheny County Council, Liv Bennett hoped her roots in the county would help propel her to the county executive’s office. Bennett launched her campaign on Dec. 12, reflecting on her work on County Council to ban conversion therapy, prohibit fracking in county parks and establish a police review board, according to Pittsburgh City Paper. As county executive, Bennett wanted to reform the Allegheny County Jail, improve access to public transit and strengthen public safety, per her campaign website. Bennett formally withdrew from the race on March 21.
Project manager at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Erin McClelland, a Democrat, spent 15 years as a substance abuse and mental health counselor and now works at the county’s Department of Human Services as a project manager. McClelland promised to bring “high-energy passion, vigilant prudence and extensive process and policy knowledge” to the position – a position that McClelland hoped to use to reform and modernize county government in a manner that addressed the needs of Allegheny County residents. McClelland dropped out of the race in early March.
This story will be updated as more candidates enter or exit the race.