Government
10:00 am
Fri November 4, 2011

Treasurer Race Pits Engineer Against Longtime Incumbent

John Weinstein (D-Kennedy) faces his first general election challenge since he was first elected Allegheny County Treasurer in 1999.

In his three terms, Weinstein believes he has modernized the Treasurer's office by prioritizing customer service and implementing paperless billing, among other initiatives. "I have transformed this office into a professional operation," Weinstein said.

With sweeping budget reforms looking increasingly likely, Weinstein said the county needs an experienced hand at the till. "We are the nucleus and the heartbeat of the money," he said. "The Treasurer is responsible for disbursing the funds. And my years of experience here in county government are invaluable to know what we really need to operate the government."

But his opponent Ned Pfeifer (R-Shadyside), a former chemical engineer and later treasurer at Alcoa, said the official responsible for executing budget reforms countywide should first get his own house in order. At 80 employees, Pfeifer said the Treasurer's office is overstaffed. "When I was treasurer of Alcoa, I had less than a third of that number of people, and the organization was quite a bit larger. So I have some questions about budgetary costs."

Weinstein said he has put those staffers to good use making the service more responsive to the needs of residents who call for help with everything from tax bills to dog licenses. "When someone calls my office, they get a live person on the phone," Weinstein said. "We are dedicated to customer service."

Ned Pfeifer thinks he can do better. The Republican candidate worked as a corporate planner at Alcoa before becoming the aluminum giant's treasurer. Pfeifer noted that his background in high-level corporate finance has prepared him to deal with the scale of problems facing Allegheny County. "I've worked solving problems all my career," Pfeifer said. "I think I can help the County Executive and Council solve some problems, perhaps with the Port Authority, with the airport."