PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In his first sit-down television interview since losing his race for governor, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato says he’s moving on.
“I don’t relive an election,” Onorato told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano. “It’s over. The voters spoke. We both ran a race. I’m a big boy. It’s a rough game.”
Onorato says he has no second thoughts about how he could have run it differently.
“I ran the best race I could possibly run. I raised money. I got the issues out there, and I have no regrets,” he said.
Despite the negative ads, Onorato says he has no bad feelings toward Governor-elect Corbett.
Maybe one sore point was losing Allegheny County narrowly.
Delano: “Did that disappoint you?”
Onorato: “It did a little bit, but you have to look at the numbers, Jon. I basically tied, maybe lost by 400, 500, something like that.”
Onorato stresses that he got 11,000 more votes than he did when he first ran against Republican incumbent Jim Roddey in 2003.
“I got more votes in Allegheny County than I ever did in my political career,” he said.
His new statewide name recognition positions him for future runs in 2012 for either Corbett’s job as attorney general or auditor general, where incumbent Jack Wagner is term-limited.
“I would never rule anything out. There’s a lot of options on the public sector side, if I stay in public life,” he said. “I would look at all of them.”
But first, Onorato must decide whether he wants another term as county executive — for which he must file this coming March.
“Are you running for reelection as county executive in 2011?” KDKA’s Jon Delano asked him directly.
“I don’t know. I haven’t made that decision,” says Onorato. “I’m not going to make any decisions about my future for a few weeks. I want to get through the next couple of weeks and months. But obviously I will do an evaluation of what I want to do, talk with my family, and then make a decision going forward.”
In the meantime, Onorato is back at his desk, pledging to hold the line on property taxes for eight years in a row.
“We are the only county in western Pennsylvania that can claim a no property tax increase at the county level, the only county.”
Onorato’s 2011 budget maintains that promise.
“I held every single department to the same budget line item as I did last year. No cost of living increase. Everybody has got to tighten their belt.”
And while the county is under court order to reassess everyone’s property, Onorato says he has not given up the fight.
“While we are going through the process of getting new numbers because we have to under a court order, they don’t have to be used until 2012, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are not used until we have proper protection,” he said.
A continuing headache is the Port Authority which is raising fares and cutting service in March because, says Onorato, the state has reneged on its Act 44 deal.
“We got a concessionary contract from the union, we put dedicated funding in place for the first time in 44 years, and that was to get the state money,” Onorato said. “And all of a sudden they took away the state money and said, ‘Now you’re on your own.’”
Onorato says the service cuts and fare increases depend on the new governor and legislature.
“We probably have a two-month window with Harrisburg to see what they do.”
To raise revenue, Onorato says he supports environmentally-responsible Marcellus Shale drilling on county property near the airport and criticizes the city of Pittsburgh’s drilling ban.
“I think what City Council did was a mistake,” Onorato said. “They should have not voted for a ban. They have really given this region a black eye.”
Of course, City Council’s action has no impact outside city lines and Onorato says the county is in the process of putting some county lands out for Marcellus shale drilling.
As for the Port Authority, the only way to avoid fare increases and service cuts, says Onorato, is action by the new governor and legislature.
On property reassessments, he wants Harrisburg to pass a moratorium to keep a backdoor tax increase from taking effect in 2012.