2 City Council Incumbents, Including The Council President, Face Challengers In Run For Reelection

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Four Pittsburgh City Council members, all Democrats, are up for reelection this year.

While two are unopposed, two incumbents face challengers in next week’s primary.

Council members Daniel Lavelle and Erika Strassburger get a break, but both City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith and South Hills City Councilman Anthony Coghill face primary challenges from newcomers Jacob Williamson and Bethani Cameron.

“I have done and delivered for our district for 11 years, and I work really well with a lot of people,” Kail-Smith told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

Kail-Smith of Westwood represents the 2nd Council District in southwest Pittsburgh. This year, Jacob Williamson of Crafton Heights, a former seminarian who works for a local church, wants her job.

“I want to serve people. I want to help people,” Williamson said.

Williamson says the district has been underserved by the incumbent, getting just five percent of the capital budget which, he says, is among the least of the nine council districts.

“We are seventh out of nine. We are the best of the worst,” says Williamson. “We don’t have a voice at city council. We don’t have someone advocating for us.”

Kail-Smith disputes those numbers.

“We were number one in capital budget projects last year. You don’t get to be number one because you are getting less dollars,” she added.

Coghill of Beechview is running for his second term in the 4th Council District, which includes much of the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

“I need another four years to finish what I started,” says Coghill.

Coghill said his focus is on infrastructure, paving roads, snow removal and reopening a Public Works station in the district.

“The number one project that I am most proud of is getting the Public Works division rebuilt in our district. Before I took office, only months before I took office, they decided to close it down.”

“We’re still not getting the services we paid for,” said Cameron of Overbrook.

Cameron, who once worked for former Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, says too many roads still went unplowed last winter.

“We don’t have time to wait for progress. We need action to happen now,” Cameron said. “We can’t keep waiting for services that are promised, or maybe it will be better next time.”

Democratic voters will decide on Tuesday whether to keep or replace these incumbents.