Spending And Improving Intergovernmental Collaboration Define Race For County Council District 4

Nov 1, 2017

The race to represent Allegheny County Council’s District 4 pits a relatively new incumbent against a political rookie. Democratic candidate Patrick Catena was appointed to council in January, while Republican Dimitrios Pantzoulas won a place on next week’s ballot as a write-in candidate.

When Scott Township’s Michael Finnerty resigned his seat on County Council last December, Catena campaigned for the interim position. A former Carnegie Council president and lifelong resident of the borough, Catena is now running to keep the District 4 seat he’s held since January. Catena said his main priority is ensuring all the municipalities in District 4 benefit from growth in the region.

“There needs to be intergovernmental cooperation in anything that we do. Critical infrastructure, housing, affordable housing, blight, mass transportation,” he said. “All of these discussions need to be had with everyone across the board.”

After his appointment to council, Catena joined every committee to better understand the issues facing the county. His Republican opponent, Dimitrios Pantzoulas, said he has a different kind of experience he wants to bring to local government.

“I’ve created over 96 jobs in my businesses over the last 15 years. It’s not a big company, it’s a very small company,” he said. “But I know what it takes to create jobs.”

Speaking at a candidates’ forum for Districts 1 and 4 held by the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh this week, Pantzoulas said he’s most concerned about spending, citing the county’s more than $900 million operating budget.

Pantzoulas said he hopes to add more Republican voices to Council.

“If elected to council, I will help break that supermajority vote that the Democrats currently run,” he said, referring to the comfortable 10-to-5 majority held by council’s democratic members. “The democrats can come in at any point and say, ‘We’re going to spend more money in parks,’ or ‘We’re just going to give everyone raises.’ The republicans are just sitting there and saying ‘We can’t do anything about it.’”

County Council works well together, and in a bipartisan manner, said Catena.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean we all agree all the time…but everyone wants what’s best for the county at the end of the day.”

Both candidates named the opioid crisis as the region’s biggest challenge.