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County Primary: Progressive Democrats shut down politically-connected opponents

By The Editorial Board

Election day held some surprises in Allegheny County as more progressive Democratic candidates won their primaries over heavily-favored, politically-connected candidates.

Steven Zappala and John Weinstein lost, respectively, to Matt Dugan and State Rep. Sara Innamorato. If elected in the Fall, Innamorato would be the first woman to be County Executive. Both Zappala and Weinstein have come from families that have long held political power and they had wielded power themselves for many years. Zappala has been District Attorney since 1998 and Weinstein has been tax collector since 1999. They’ve authored the last two decades of political life in the Pittsburgh area, but this primary season voters came out to change the direction of the story.

Despite the inundation of ads and signs, the burnishment of official endorsements and the power of name recognition, ideas seemed to win the day.

Voter turnout was a little more than 30%, which means a small but motivated group showed up. People who had been taking note of policy and possibly scandal changed the course of politics in Allegheny County on May 16. Hopefully, this will make a government closer in line with the needs of its residents, but only time will determine that outcome.

Progressives have landed wins in other key Allegheny County races this year, as well.

Bethany Hallam beat out challenger Joanna Doven, retaining her at-large county council seat, while party activist Erica Brusselars secured a win in the county treasurer race.

The broader point is that the machine politics we assume will always continue whirring have been dealt a blow. These institutions that we feel are built on an immovable bedrock, are really composed of people. And people, like individual grains of sand cascading, can shift beneath a seemingly immovable object.

There are moments when your voice can be amplified when you matter more than you ever thought you could. There are moments every day when your ability to show up and make a choice can shift the course of history. That is the power of casting your vote.



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