But a bizarre mailer sent out by controversial Democratic Committee Chair Kevin Quigley has injected some buzz into the Pittsburgh City Council District 1 contest. Incumbent Pittsburgh City Councilor Darlene Harris, a Democrat, is running against challengers Bobby Wilson and Mark Brentley.
A picture of the mailer was sent to Pittsburgh City Paper and it starts out by smearing the endorsements Wilson received from the labor union SEIU 32BJ and from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. It calls SEIU 32BJ Political Action Committee a “super political pack [sic]” and says its mailers supporting Wilson are “slanderous and disingenuous.”
Nekia Burton, a 32BJ member and Brighton Heights resident, has seen the Quigley mailer. She says it is disrespectful to the union’s members, Peduto, and Wilson and that 32BJ members understand the North Side’s issues. Burton and 32BJ members advocate for things like affordable housing, as well as more salt trucks in the winter.
“A lot of our members live in the North Side,” says Burton. “We are not just doing things just to do things. I know the issues and the mailer was rude.”
The mailer then claims SEIU 32BJ president Sam Williamson, who is also the head of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, was recruited by Peduto to “invest large sums of East End money and resources.”
Peduto did not issue a statement for this story.
In the second paragraph, Quigley, who chairs Pittsburgh’s 27th ward Democratic Committee shares in support for Harris, calls her “the only candidate that has invested in our neighborhoods.” It lists Harris' many labor union endorsements and her endorsement from the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.
The mailer also mentions that Harris asks tough questions on the council and provides pushback to Peduto. It says Wilson would just be a "yes" vote for the mayor.
The Wilson campaign lamented Quigley's attempt to cast the candidate in a negative light.
"The lengths that some people in politics will go to [to] lie and deceive voters would be laughable if it wasn't so sad,” says a statement from the Wilson campaign. “Bobby Wilson has been running a positive campaign, based on shared values and vision with his Northside neighbors."
The mailer describes Quigley’s history working for the department of public works under mayors Bob O’Connor and Luke Ravenstahl. This isn’t the first time Quigley thrust himself into political controversy. Last year, he ran for and won the leadership post of the Pittsburgh Democratic Committee, despite some critics concerns about his past domestic violence allegations.
The Wilson campaign also has some objections with the end of the mailer.
In it, Peduto's administration is accused of not spending adequate city money on street paving despite the fact the city budget has dedicated $20 million to street paving this year, the largest amount in decades.
It also claims Wilson is “NOT a 5th generation North Sider” and says he went to Shaler High School. The Wilson campaign says it never denied that Wilson attended Shaler High School, but added that living out of the North Side for two years doesn’t make Wilson any less of a North Sider.
"Bobby lives in Spring Hill with his wife and children in a home that has been in his family for 51 years,” says the Wilson campaign. “He is a fifth-generation Northsider, whose family has lived all around the Northside since 1878."
The mailer ends by calling on Democratic voters to support Harris and vote for her.
“On May 21st let’s send a clear message to Mayor Peduto and SEIU 32BJ the North Side will NOT be bought by the big East End money and the Gang on Grant Street. Please join the North Side Democratic Committee Members in voting in our Endorsed Candidate Darlene Harris [sic]."
Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tue., May 21. For more information on who's running, check out CP's Election Guide.