PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Usually, public officials try to put the most positive spin on election results that they don’t like.

But Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald did just the opposite when KDKA political editor Jon Delano caught up to him via cell phone enroute to Washington DC Wednesday afternoon.

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Fitzgerald just won what is likely to be another four years as county executive, but he says he heard a different message from voters.

“A little dose of humble pie; learn from it; learn from what the voters said and hopefully improve,” Fitzgerald said is the message.

After Fitzgerald’s very public quarrel with controller Chelsa Wagner, Wagner defeated Fitzgerald’s candidate, Mark Patrick Flaherty.

“In the controller’s race the voters spoke that they wanted Chelsa Wagner to continue on being the independent controller that she has been,” says Fitzgerald.

He says he’s already reached out to Wagner.

“I do plan on sitting down with her and having a discussion and seeing where we can go from here.”

Wagner’s win wasn’t the only message from voters, says Fitzgerald.

Running unopposed, running-mates District Attorney Steve Zappala got 91,730 votes and Treasurer John Weinstein got 90,729 votes, but Fitzgerald got under 68,882 votes.

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“The voters, they speak loud and clear in elections,” he said.

And Fitzgerald says he heard voters’ concerns about trying to control everything.

“There was probably a little push-back there about maybe me trying to put people into council seats and getting involved in too many races,” he admits.

Will the public see something different in the years ahead.

Delano: “A softer, gentler Rich Fitzgerald?”

Fitzgerald: “Well, maybe. Maybe that’s what we’ll see. You get more flies with honey type of thing. That old saying.”

A softer, gentler Rich Fitzgerald?

Ironically, what makes the county executive so effective that he is running for reelection unopposed may be the same qualities that turn some people off.

So finding the right balance in the years ahead will be his biggest challenge.

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