ALLEGHENY COUNTY (KDKA) — For the first time since 1999, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala will face a challenger in the general election.
When voters head to the polls on Tuesday, they will see Zappala or Lisa Middleman, who is running as an independent candidate for district attorney.
Middleman announced her candidacy in June.
The weekend before the election, both candidates were on the campaign trail and feeling confident.
“I feel good about the election,” said Zappala at his campaign headquarters in Etna. “I’ve spent a great deal of time in the community during my tenure, and people have responded really well.”
At a pierogi festival at St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brighton Heights, Middleman was dining with other patrons and handing out flyers.
“Wherever I go and share my vision of what the district attorney’s office can be, I think people are energized and they feel great hope that we can make the system better for more people,” said Middleman.
Zappala cited his 21-year tenure as one of his strengths and listed a number of things he plans to do should he win — including reform for safety technology, domestic violence laws, and Amber Alerts.
“That’s what the DA’s office does,” he said. “It brings all the people. You hear the issues, you bring the people to the table. If the answer is ‘No’, we’ll find a better way to do it. We’ll get it done.”
However, Middleman sees the need for a fresh perspective.
The public defender is looking to reform the criminal justice system, which she feels Zappala has not done.
“We spend so much money incarcerating people, and we could much better use that money to direct it toward investigation of violent crime and drug trafficking, and we would all be safer,” she said.
Both candidates have received a fair share of endorsements.
Middleman was endorsed by State Representatives Summer Lee, Ed Gainey and Sara Innamorato, as well as SEIU Healthcare.
Zappala received endorsements from members of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and AFL-CIO.
Find your local polling place here.