Photo by Alex Zimmerman
Natalia Rudiak at the Polish Falcons Nest
In a linoleum-tiled room nestled behind a smokey bar at the Polish Falcons Nest #8 in South Side last night, City Councilor Natalia Rudiak kicked off her campaign for city controller and made a stab at defining her candidacy.
She'll be squaring off against against seven-year incumbent Michael Lamb, who she tried to define as a product of an old political machine that wouldn't be capable of the data-driven innovation she's championed on city council.
"I’m running for city controller because it is time to lift up our vision for a new Pittsburgh," Rudiak said in front of a crowd of about 50. "And I don’t believe that the vision … will ever be realized without a new controller. We cannot have 21st century executive and legislative bodies with 20th century oversight.”
She touted her role in "guid[ing] a five-year Act 47 plan," her "Open Data" bill that "made all city data public and open by default," and status as chair of council's Finance and Law Committee.
But Rudiak also took direct aim at Lamb: "Less than two years ago, our city was rocked by scandal. Our police chief went to jail, our mayor was under grand jury investigation for possible fiscal related misconduct and our controller said there was nothing he could have done to stop it.”
Rudiak's got the backing of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (who was in attendance) and Mayor Bill Peduto (according to Rudiak), whose political infrastructure she's trying to capitalize on by billing herself as an extension of Peduto's "new" Pittsburgh. Rudiak acknowledges it's tricky to get people excited about financial oversight, part of the reason she's hoping to make the election about a larger political agenda. "It's hard to make this stuff sexy," she says.
But she's vowing to try: Taking a page out of Peduto's political playbook
, each week of her campaign will feature a new policy proposal or reform.