Special election date set in the race for former Council Member Dan Gilman’s seat

It won’t involve a traditional primary.

Democratic contenders: Sonja Finn, Marty Healey and Erika Strassburger

Democratic contenders: Sonja Finn, Marty Healey and Erika Strassburger

Courtesy of Laura Petrilla | Courtesy of martyhealey.com | Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

The special election to fill Mayoral Chief of Staff Dan Gilman’s former council seat will take place Tuesday, March 6, Allegheny County officials confirmed today.

Gilman recently vacated his council seat and accepted a position as Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief of staff, setting the stage for a special election to find his successor.

Candidates began to emerge almost immediately.

The same day that Gilman was announced as Peduto’s new chief of staff, Dec. 19, two contenders declared their candidacies for Gilman’s now-vacant East End District 8 seat: Dinette owner and political activist Sonja Finn and former Gilman chief of staff Erika Strassburger (whom Gilman has publicly supported).

In the week or so since, Shadyside resident and Delta Foundation board member Marty Healey also entered the race. 

The race to find Gilman’s replacement — much like the upcoming special election to fill disgraced former Congressman Tim Murphy’s vacant seat — won’t involve a traditional primary. Instead, party committee members in District 8 will decide which candidate to nominate. Others can run as independents.

The announcement of Gilman’s new role came about a week after former Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin announced he was returning to the private sector with Peoples Gas.

Peduto’s second inauguration was Wednesday, also marking Gilman’s first day in his new post.

Per the city’s Home Rule Charter, Council President Bruce Kraus had three calendar days from the date of Gilman’s resignation to instruct the city clerk to issue the writ of election. The clerk then had four calendar days to issue the writ to the county Elections Division.

County elections officials received the writ for Gilman’s seat on Thursday, county spokeswoman Amie Downs confirmed, officially setting the date. (A message left with the city clerk’s office was not immediately returned on Friday.)

Gilman’s turn as chief of staff, while surprising to some, was not unprecedented. He had served as then-Council Member Peduto’s chief of staff for 9 years and took over Peduto’s District 8 council seat when Peduto became mayor.

Gilman’s appointment as chief of staff was not subject to City Council approval, per the city. The 2018 salary for Gilman’s new position is $111,323. A council member’s salary was $65,423 in 2017, according to TribLive.