PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -The Flaherty name has been a powerful one in local Democratic party politics for nearly 40 years.
This year will test whether that name still retains its old allegiance.
Allegheny County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty wants the job Dan Onorato will give up at the end of the year, and Flaherty knows this race will be much more than a family affair.
As a small group of supporters cheered him on, Flaherty made it official.
“The most important thing is we move the county forward, and that’s why today I would like to announce my candidacy to become the next County Executive of Allegheny County,” Flaherty told the crowd.
Flaherty made his announcement in Katy’s Park. The County Courthouse park was pushed by Flaherty’s mother, Katy, when Flaherty’s dad, Jim Flaherty, was an Allegheny County commissioner.
“I said to somebody, my children will never, never be in politics,” Katy Flaherty told KDKA political editor Jon Delano. “So, it’s coming to haunt me now. But he’s carrying on a tradition I think.”
It’s a proud family tradition that goes back to the late Pittsburgh mayor and county commissioner Pete Flaherty, Mark’s uncle. It’s a tradition carried on by his father, Jim, who was first a commissioner and then a statewide judge.
“He is so much more qualified to take the office than I was,” Jim Flaherty said of his son Mark.
The senior Flaherty hopes the name is still magic in local politics.
“I’ll tell you, unless it’s worn out, I know it helped me.”
Mark Flaherty will have it tested. County council president Rich Fitzgerald is expected to announce he’s running next week.
“Rich has stated that he wants to continue the policies of the past, and I have stated that I want to provide change to county government and the taxpayers and move forward. I think that’s the main contrast,” Mark Flaherty said.
Not so, says Fitzgerald.
Flaherty represents the old family politics of the past, while he, Fitzgerald, stands for reform and renewal.
Another difference is that Fitzgerald embraces Onorato’s tough stand against reassessments, while Flaherty is flexible.
“I wanted to do the assessments a couple years ago,” says Flaherty. “And get them over with and try to capture the low values that happened at that time.”
Reassessment is just one big issue the next county executive will inherit.
Flaherty also said the county needs to learn to operate without dollars from the state and feds, since both of them have fiscal issues of their own.
Besides Democrat Fitzgerald, three Republicans are considering a run.
County Council members Chuck McCullough and Matt Drozd and Tea Party organizer Patricia Weaver may run, but none have made official decisions.