Harris clinches Democratic primary, Brentley and Holley take school district races

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City Council District 1 incumbent Darlene Harris squeezed past mayoral pick Vince Pallus to win the Democratic primary election Tuesday.

Final results put Harris with 41 percent and Pallus with 39 percent of the vote. Two other candidates, Bobby Wilson and Steve Oberst, came away with 13 and 7 percent respectively.

“I want to move forward now,” Harris said. “There are a lot of projects that aren’t finished on the Northside and I look forward to finishing some of those projects.”

One project in particular is bringing suburbanites back into the city. To do this, she said the city needs to spruce up its infrastructure a bit with repaving streets and housing projects.

“[Suburbanites] want to be able to walk to our business districts,” Harris said.

The days leading up to the District 1 race were ugly, as attack ads, vandalism and accusations of sign removal are flying in full force the day before the primary election.

Before 4 a.m. on Sunday, May 15 someone broke the window of Harris’s campaign office on East Ohio Street, according to a press release sent by Harris’ campaign.

An employee of an East Ohio Street business discovered the broken window and reported it to authorities, said campaign manager Kyndall Mason. Pittsburgh Police are investigating.

A press release from Harris’s campaign called the incident vandalism, but Mason said that “It could have been anything from someone falling through it to someone breaking it.”

She added, though, that Harris did not believe in coincidences, and that dealing with the incident on Sunday meant they could not spend that time campaigning door to door as planned.

The press release also stated that objects have been thrown at Harris’s personal vehicle and supporters have reported pro-Harris yard signs being removed or stolen.

Vince Pallus said that his office also received numerous reports of stolen or missing campaign signs, and that someone wrote a vulgar saying on one of his signs in Woods Run.

He said there were no incidents at his campaign office.

“That’s unfortunately that that happened to her,” Pallus said of the broken window. “It may not have had anything to do with the campaign. It’s my understanding that a lot of windows have been broken down there [recently].”

The Vince Pallus campaign sent out a flyer that criticized Harris the week before the election. The flyer said “Greed Works for Darlene Harris” and listed a number of projects, such as demolition, that Harris allegedly moved money away from to fund pet projects.

Harris responded with her own flyer defending her projects and funding decisions and calling attention to $3 million she secured for her district over the past two years.

“This was a very interesting election,” Harris said. “I’m proud that under any condition at the polls the people working for me kept a clean campaign and worked very hard.”

School board

For Northside Pittsburgh Public School Board District 2, challenger Regina Holley beat out incumbent Dara Ware Allen for the Democratic race.

“[Voters] want someone with experience in education,” Holley said. “They want someone who has proved themselves to be an advocate for children.”

Holley has more than 30 years experience as a teacher and principal in Pittsburgh Public Schools. She currently works as a consultant for the State Department of Education.

Holley is “firmly” against a tax increase despite looming budget cuts, she said.

“If elected to the school board, I would make it a priority that we, as a district, scrutinize closely the personnel in central administration and cut non-essential positions, the money spent on consultants, the programs that are sapping resources, yet are showing little to no results in student achievement,” Holley said on her website.

Allen cross-filed as a Republican and ran unopposed, meaning the two could face one another in the November general election. Allen was appointed to the District 2 seat in 2009 by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl when Heather Arnet vacated it.

Allen said she is weighing her options for November.  She said the biggest issue facing the school district is how to make "prudent cuts" to the budget and mantain the progress they have achieved with fewer resources.

"I’m very thankful for all the people who came out and voted for me, and who believe in what I have and what I can continue to offer," Allen said.

In District 8, incumbent Mark Brentley, Sr. won over three challengers: Lisa Freeman, Arita Gilliam Rue and Deloris Lewis. Brentley also cross-filed for Republican and ran unopposed.

“I am extremely honored that a majority of voters in the district spoke loud and clear and that they are supportive of my service on the board,” Brentley said.

Brentley was first elected as the District 8 director in 1999 and has since been on the board for 10 years, and said he looks forward to continuing his service. His opinions have often run contrary to the board majority.

According to a voter’s guide published by nonpartisan group A+ Schools, Brentley said “Most major decisions are made based on race, politics, or classism. It seems as though the wealthier communities’ issues are addressed immediately while issues in poor communities go unaddressed and rarely are they resolved in a timely fashion.”

This article was updated on May 19 at 2:30 p.m. to include a comment from Dara Ware Allen, who was not available before press time.

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