Former state Rep. Sara Innamoroto and retired PNC Bank executive Joe Rockey are vying to succeed outgoing Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
Eric Heyl,Patch Staff
Posted Mon, Oct 9, 2023 at 3:28 pm ETReply
PITTSBURGH, PA — Sara Innamorato emerged from a contentious campaign involving a half-dozen candidates win the Democratic Allegheny County Executive primary race in May. Joe Rockey was unopposed for the Republican nomination.
The two will square off in the Nov. 7 general election to see which of them will succeed term-limited Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who will leave office in January after a dozen years in office. The stakes are high. Whoever wins will be charge of a county with a population of 1.2 million, a $3 billion budget, 7,500 employees, 400 miles of roads and 500 bridges.
At the time of her primary win, Innamorato, a Lawrenceville resident, was a state representative who represented portions of Pittsburgh and several of its northern suburbs. She subsequently resigned to focus on the executive campaign.
Rockey, of Ohio Township, is a former PNC Financial Services executive.
Innamorato is a self-described progressive candidate, while Rockey has cast himself as a centrist.
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The race would appear to be Innamorato’s to lose. Democrats outnumber Republicans two-to-one in the county, and there has been only one GOP county executive – Jim Roddey – since the county moved to an executive-council form of government in 2000.
In a recent televised debate, the focus turned to crime – a hot button issue given a spate of shootings and other violence in recent months, particular in Downtown Pittsburgh and some communities throughout the county.
Saying he has a five-point plan to improve safety in the county, Rockey said, “I believe it’s imperative that we focus on the actual crimes that are going on and we enforce the law that’s in front of us.”
Innamorato said she doesn’t believe policing is the be-all end-all to keeping people safe.
“If we want to get to the root cause of what makes people really feel safe, we need to make sure that we are also addressing root causes like investing in housing and remediating blight,” she said.
Innamaroto has accumulated an impressive number of endorsements.
Elected officials who have endorsed her include U.S. senators John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Bernie Sanders of Vermont; U.S. Rep. Summer Lee of Pittsburgh; Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro; Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey; state representatives Dan Deasy and Jessica Benham and Pittsburgh city council members Erika Strassburger, Deb Gross, Barb Warwick and Bobby Wilson. Organization endorsements have come from the Pennsylvania Working Families Party, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, several IBEW locals and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.
Bolstering the notion that there is law enforcement support for his plan to combat crime, Rockey’s endorsements include the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 91 and the Allegheny County Prison Employees Independent Union.
Rockey also has the backing of the newly formed Forward Party, co-founded by onetime Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey.