By Rob Pratte

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The candidates for the Allegheny County Executive seat stopped by NEWSRADIO 1020 KDKA to talk again about what ideas they plan to implement if elected and what problems need to be fixed.

Democrat Rich Fitzgerald and Republican D. Raja stopped in to talk with KDKA Radio’s Rob Pratte about public education, property assessments, Marcellus Shale  and how to deal with the budget problems that Allegheny County is facing.

“I think I’ll bring business here, but it’s overall the environment here. The rule of government, I think, is to have lower taxes, consistent regulation that’s fair and have a set of platforms for the private sector and individuals to succeed. We shouldn’t be picking winners and losers and getting involved in it,” Raja said.

As far as the budget deficit goes, Raja believes jobs are the key to turning it around.

“I think the long-term answer is exactly right. You [have to] have jobs here, jobs that turn the declining population around that we have. We lost 4.5 percent in the last decade, which is more than the previous decade. If I look at what’s going on in our region here’s what it is, unemployment has doubled. It went from 3.1 percent all the way to 8.6. Now, we’re about at 7.6,” Raja aid. “Long-term the answer is jobs, turning the declining population around. Short-term, you have to do better with the county government. There’s a lot of stuff we can do.”

Fitzgerald talked about recent studies that have held the Pittsburgh region in high regard as well as why he thinks reassessment in Allegheny County should be stopped.

“This region has really transformed itself over the last four or five years. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau showed that last year more young people moved into Allegheny County that moved out under the age of 34. There was a study that came out two days ago, National Geographic talked about western Pittsburgh – western Pennsylvania – being one of only two cities in the world that are top 20 cities to move to. We have really made major, major strides. A study came out yesterday that our housing starts are up higher than the national average. We lead the region here in western Pennsylvania. One of the reasons why we have to stop this reassessment, if Allegheny County is the only county forced to reassess, all those gains we have made over the last 10 years will be wiped out.

Pratte: So you’re saying there is going to be no reassessment?

Fitzgerald: Well, there can’t be. Because we have to do it state-wide the way every other state in the nation does it does it. You live in Beaver County, you haven’t reassessed in 40 years, You like it out there you like it that way. If you have to reassess, you’re not going to like it. Washington County, Beaver, Butler, these counties haven’t reassessed in 40 years.

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