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Running Away From Office

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It may be the highest-profile job opening in the city, but the number of resumes flooding into the race for mayor of Pittsburgh is shrinking fast.

 

 

On Dec. 21, Mayor Tom Murphy said he wouldn't seek a fourth term. Now his ally, state Rep. Dan Frankel, has opted out. Long considered a possible carrier of Murphy's pro-development torch, the Squirrel Hill Democrat says he mailed supporters before New Year's and told them he wouldn't run for mayor. He'll be sending two kids to college in the next few years, which will take up a lot of his time, he explains.

 

"Some of the sex appeal of the job of mayor has certainly dissipated," Frankel adds. That's because two state-appointed panels now oversee the city's slashed budget. There will be little money available for improvement projects. "Paving streets, it's hard to see how you even do that," he says. Frankel's decision opens the way for another Murphy ally to claim the role of heir apparent -- if anybody wants that distinction.

 

"As a legislator, I have access to more resources, especially state resources, than the mayor would," says Rep. Don Walko, a Brighton Heights Democrat who was mulling a run until recently. "Being mayor would be fun, but it may not be the right move for me or my family." Combined with Murphy's withdrawal, Walko's non-run means the North Side probably won't have a candidate for the first time in decades, which opens that territory to other contestants.

 

City Council President Gene Ricciardi is also out, saying the 16-hour-a-day job of mayor wouldn't leave time for his 10-year-old daughter. Plus, a poll he commissioned in November ranked him second, behind former City Council President Bob O'Connor, but suggested he'd have to spend $1 million and "go negative" to win, he says.

Councilor Sala Udin had considered running for mayor, but says he will instead run for re-election to council this year. "It was not worth giving up the council seat for what was, admittedly, a narrow risk," he says.

 

O'Connor still hasn't formally announced his intentions, but says he's opening a campaign office on Second Avenue, Downtown. Prothonotary Michael Lamb is opening up a campaign office on Penn Avenue, Downtown. Other possible candidates are City Controller Tom Flaherty and City Councilor Bill Peduto.

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