Local
4:41 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Fitzgerald Wins County Executive Race

Democrat Rich Fitzgerald will succeed Dan Onorato as the next Allegheny County Executive in January.

The Democrat defeated his Republican opponent, D. Raja, by a double-digit margin on his way to becoming the third County Executive since the office's inception 12 years ago.

"I'm very humbled and very excited at the opportunity to lead this county over the next four years," said Fitzgerald. "We've got a lot of hard work ahead of us, and a lot of challenges ahead of us, but we're working with a lot of people in Harrisburg and in Washington, in our business community, and in our labor community — I think everybody pulling together, we can do some terrific things."

Fitzgerald thanked his family, his staff, and his voters for the victory, also taking time to single out the unions that endorsed him. The County Executive-elect said that he'll work to improve the lot of the middle class in Allegheny County by creating jobs and expanding human services.

"The working men and women of this country, in many ways, have been beaten down over the last 30 years, and told that they're not good enough, that they're part of our competitive disadvantage in this country," said Fitzgerald. "I could not disagree with that sentiment more."

Fitzgerald said that creating jobs will be his top priority, and he said that he'd do that in part by expanding the Marcellus Shale gas industry in the county. Fitzgerald also reiterated his commitment to regionalizing public transit to include all counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, and said that he'd continue to "hold the line" on property taxes with the help of County Council.

The Democrat beat his Republican opponent handily after months of negative campaigning from both sides. However, Fitzgerald related to a crowd at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers that Raja was a "formidable opponent."

"Quite frankly, we were outspent two-to-one," said Fitzgerald. "My opponent spent [$1.7 million] in the campaign, and we spent half of that, and we won by two to one. It's an amazing thing."

Fitzgerald ended up winning the general election by about a 24-point margin, netting 61.7 percent of the vote, compared to Raja's 37.5 percent, according to the County's unofficial results. He also defeated outgoing County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty in the May Democratic primary. Fitzgerald said that he'd been campaigning hard since January, when Onorato decided not to seek re-election, and now he's looking forward to his term.