PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh city councilman Patrick Dowd has been a fixture on the Pittsburgh political scene for at least a decade — once on the city school board and most recently as a member of council.
Dowd also challenged Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for mayor four years ago.
But now Dowd is leaving elective politics for another form of political action.
“Next month I will resign my position at Pittsburgh city council in order to take on the responsibility as executive director of Allies for Children,” Dowd told a press conference Monday morning, “and while I’m leaving elective office I am not leaving service to the public.”
Allies for Children is a brand new children’s advocacy group initially funded by the United Way and several foundations — designed to lobby government on behalf of existing organizations in southwest PA who advocate for specific needs of children.
“What we want to do is look comprehensively at what children need to grow and develop in healthy ways and then have all the organizations when an issue comes up in the public policy arena support that initiative by having one strong loud powerful voice, rather than having individual voices working on individual issues,” said Martha Isler, interim president of Allies.
Dowd — a former teacher, school board member, and city official — says he’s prepared.
“This is really my passion, so I’m thrilled to get back to it,” Dowd said.
But his upcoming resignation is likely to set off a scramble for the seat he’s represented on council since 2007.
“If I were to finish my work and be able to resign by mid-July, that would trigger a vacancy in that window,” he said. “That election would take place at the time of the general, time of the general.”
Dowd says a November 5th special election saves tax money and generates more interest.
“That actually guarantees high turnout and that guarantees low cost to the public,” he said.
But who will run for council is up for grabs.
This district is a sprawling one that stretches from the Strip District through Lawrenceville, Morningside, Stanton Heights, Highland Park and Polish Hill and parts of Bloomfield, East Liberty and Garfield.
Possible candidates include two former council members — Jim Ferlo and Len Bodack, Jr. — with others noted on Grant Street like Lauren Byrne, Tony Cioffe, Jr, Paul McKrell and Rita Turpin.
But the big question is — will Democratic mayor candidate Bill Peduto have a horse in this race?
It’s important because Peduto has had issues with some of his council colleagues.
His most likely allies on city council are Bruce Kraus, Natalia Rudiak, Corey O’Connor and Peduto chief of staff Dan Gilman.
His greatest skeptics are Darlene Harris, Ricky Burgess, Daniel Lavelle and Teresa Kail Smith.
All of which makes Dowd’s seat on council the fifth and swing vote for — or against — Peduto.
Many think Ferlo — a state senator whose senate district will disappear next year under reapportionment — is a strong contender. But no word on if he wants this.
Ferlo opposed Peduto in the recent primary — and could face a Peduto-backed candidate.
While the Democratic committee people will pick their nominee, others can run in a special election by filing nominating petitions.
All in all, it’s likely to be another wild election.