PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Their primary wins were unexpected.
Democrat Bethany Hallam defeated long-time incumbent county councilman-at-large John DeFazio.
“I was speaking out for people who all across the county felt that no one on county council was speaking out for them, and they were ready to make that happen,” Hallam told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
At the same time, Democrat Olivia ‘Liv’ Bennett defeated councilwoman Denise Ranalli Russell.
Now Bennett says she’s ready to stir things up on county council.
“I am quite the community activist. I’m in the streets for any and everything from Antwon Rose to Tree of Life.”
KDKA gathered both to talk about county council, who many think is the most invisible, generally ignored body, often thought to be a rubber stamp for the county executive.
Delano: “Are you ready to shake up county council?”
Hallam: “I have been ready since day one of this campaign. It’s something that is long overdue, something that the people of Allegheny County cannot wait for any longer.”
Bennett: “As the council is supposedly being the legislative branch of this county, that has not been happening, so we have in essence one person running the county, instead of the legislative body and the executive body.”
Delano: “You mean Rich Fitzgerald is running…?”
Bennett: “Absolutely. Absolutely.”
Delano: “Do you see county council as rubber stamp?”
Bennett: “I absolutely do.”
Hallam: “But it doesn’t need to be, and it’s not going to be any longer. It’s time for a change. The people of Allegheny County are ready for a change.”
These Democrats say council must provide more oversight of all county programs from the county jail to social services to the environment and set clear policies, often at odds with Rich Fitzgerald.
“He has put corporate interests over the people of Allegheny County, specifically something that Liv and I talk a lot about is fracking. We are fracking in our county parks,” says Hallam.
With fifteen members on council, it will take eight votes for anything to happen.
But next year could be interesting.