The big list of winners in Pittsburgh’s May 2019 primary election

Several shakeups amid low voter turnout.

Students wait to vote in November 2016 at CMU.

Students wait to vote in November 2016 at CMU.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
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Voter turnout was paltry in Tuesday’s primary election, as expected, but the results were somewhat less predictable.

Among the shakeups was longtime Pittsburgh City Councilmember Darlene Harris’ loss to challenger Bobby Wilson in the Democratic primary for city council’s District 1 seat.

Twenty-nine-year-old challenger Bethany Hallam managed to best 20-year county council incumbent Jon DeFazio in the Democratic race for one of two Allegheny County Council at-large seats.

And challenger Olivia Bennett beat incumbent Denise Ranalli Russell in the Democratic race for Allegheny County Council’s District 13 seat.

This trend didn’t extend to all contests, though.

In the Democratic race for Allegheny County District Attorney, 20-year incumbent Stephen A. Zappala Jr. managed to hold off a challenge from former public defender Turahn Jenkins. Rev. Ricky Burgess successfully defended his city council seat against four Democratic challengers in District 9. Meanwhile, District 7 council representative Deb Gross won against a single Democratic challenger there, and Council President Bruce Kraus held off two challengers in District 3.

Here’s what else you might have missed. (Figures are pulled from Allegheny County election results with at least 95 percent of precincts reporting in all races.)


Stephen Zappala wins District Attorney
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Allegheny County District Attorney

Closely watched in a year defined by high-profile criminal cases and mounting calls for police reform in Pittsburgh, 20-year incumbent Stephen A. Zappala Jr. won the Democratic primary race for Allegheny County District Attorney with 59 percent of the vote.

Zappala managed to beat back a challenge — his first such primary challenge since 1999 — from former public defender Turahn Jenkins who ran on a change-is-needed platform in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to become Allegheny County’s first African-American District Attorney.

There are no Republicans running for this seat.


Bethany Hallam wins allegheny county council at-large
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Allegheny County Council at-large – Democratic

Challenger Bethany Hallam won the Democratic race for Allegheny County Council at-large with roughly 54 percent of the vote.

Incumbent Democrat Jon DeFazio has served on Allegheny County Council since it was first created in 2000. And he’d never faced a Democratic primary challenger — until now. Hallam, a 29-year-old recovering opioid addict, ran on the belief that her unique, outsider perspective is what’s needed in county politics at this time.


Sam DeMarco wins Republican allegheny county council at-large

Allegheny County Council at-large – Republican

Incumbent Sam DeMarco was unopposed on the Republican primary ballot and is headed to the general election.

There are two at-large seats on county council. Per the Post-Gazette, “In the November general election, the top two vote-getters for county council at-large seats are elected; traditionally, one comes from each party.”


Olivia Bennett wins Allegheny County Council District 13
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Allegheny County Council – District 13

With about 58 percent of the vote, challenger Olivia Bennett won the Democratic race for Allegheny County Council’s District 13, which covers Allentown, Bellevue, Beltzhoover, Downtown, Garfield, Lawrenceville, Morningside, the North Side, portions of South Side, Stanton Heights, the Strip District, and Uptown.

The Democratic race for the seat was between Bennett and incumbent Denise Ranalli Russell. Both said they wanted to elevate the profile of the often-overlooked governmental body. But they differed in their approaches, with Ranalli Russell touting a nuts-and-bolts philosophy, while Bennett called for a county council that’s unafraid of advocacy through policy.

There are no Republicans running for this seat.


Bobby Wilson wins District 1 City Council
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Pittsburgh City Council – District 1

Challenger Bobby Wilson won the Democratic race for Pittsburgh’s District 1 city council seat on the North Side, ousting 12-year incumbent Darlene Harris. During her time on council, Harris was a vocal critic of Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration. She lost on Tuesday to Wilson, who ran with the mayor’s endorsement and secured about 57 percent of the vote.

There are no Republicans running for this seat.


Bruce Kraus wins District 3 city council
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Pittsburgh City Council – District 3

With 54 percent of the total votes, incumbent Bruce Kraus won the Democratic race for Pittsburgh’s District 3 council seat, which covers Allentown, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Beltzhoover, Central Oakland, Knoxville, Mt. Oliver, Oakcliffe, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, South Oakland, and St. Clair.

Kraus is headed for a fourth term in office. The council president faced two challengers, one his former chief of staff, Ken Wolfe, and the other a University of Pittsburgh student named Chris Kumanchik. The campaign focused on council’s gun-control legislation, economic development, and parking, a staple concern for residents of the South Side, where a densely populated portion of District 3 is found.

There are no Republicans running for this seat.


Deb Gross wins District 7 city council
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Pittsburgh City Council – District 7

Incumbent Deb Gross won the Democratic race for Pittsburgh’s District 7 city council seat, which covers Bloomfield, Friendship, Highland Park, Lawrenceville, Morningside, Polish Hill, Stanton Heights, and the Strip District. She earned 59 percent of the total vote.

Gross has held the seat since 2013 but failed to get the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee this year. That endorsement instead went to Gross’ challenger, Deirdre Kane, the only non-incumbent to secure one. As would be expected in a district that includes Lawrenceville, development and housing were front-of-mind issues during the campaign.

There are no Republicans running for this seat.


Ricky Burgess wins District 9 City Council
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Pittsburgh City Council – District 9

Incumbent Ricky Burgess won the Democratic race for Pittsburgh’s District 9 city council seat, which covers East Hills, East Liberty, Friendship, Garfield, Homewood, Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, and Point Breeze North.

The race for District 9 got crowded quickly, drawing interest from candidates like activist and police shooting survivor Leon Ford well in advance of Tuesday’s primary.

Some, including Ford, bowed out as election day drew nearer, but four challengers remained on the ballot with Burgess on Tuesday. All were unsuccessful. Burgess lead with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Kierran Young with 29 percent of the vote.


Pittsburgh Board of Education seats

The Democratic race for Pittsburgh’s District 2 school board seat was won by Devon Taliaferro, while the Republican primary for that seat was won by Kirk Rys. Rys cross-filed, appearing on both Democratic and Republican primary ballots.

Pam Harbin beat Anna Batista in the Democratic and Republican races for school board in District 4.

William J. Gallagher won the Democratic race for school board in District 6. There was no Republican running for the seat.

And an unopposed Kevin Carter won the Democratic race for school board in District 8. There was no Republican running for the seat.


Court of Common Pleas Judge

Mary McGinley won both the Democratic and Republican primaries for Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judge on Tuesday.