Chris Potter

Government & Accountability Editor

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.

And yes, that is his real hair.

He can be reached at 412-930-8006 or at cpotter@wesa.fm.

PA House of Representatives

In one sense, SEIU Healthcare’s endorsement of state Rep. Ed Gainey’s campaign for mayor of Pittsburgh Tuesday is a remarkable reversal.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Incumbents in two contested city elections, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and District 4 City Councilor Anthony Coghill, start the 2021 political cycle with large financial cushions.

Courtesy of Nicola Henry-Taylor

It wouldn’t be an election cycle in Allegheny County without some complaining about the local Democratic Party apparatus.

PA House of Representatives

Days after entering Pittsburgh’s mayoral race, state Representative Ed Gainey is rolling out his first endorsement. Activist group One PA says it will back him over two-term incumbent Bill Peduto.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

Pittsburgh may get billed as the nation’s most livable city, but state Rep. Ed Gainey says too many are left out of the picture as economic and racial inequity persists – and he says the city is ready for a change of leadership.

PA House of Representatives

State Rep. Ed Gainey launched a bid to challenge Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s re-election Tuesday night, issuing an emailed statement that said he was running “because I know that the working people of Pittsburgh need opportunities for good union jobs with a living wage and benefits, affordable housing, genuine public safety, and a city where we can all belong and contribute.”

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto announced on Thursday afternoon his bid for re-election for his seat as Pittsburgh's chief executive. 

Sarah Kovash/90.5 WESA

Former Pittsburgh Police chief and state representative Dom Costa is running for Allegheny County sheriff.

“Our county and our country are in the midst of unrest and turmoil right now, and I believe that my life has prepared me to lead during these uncertain times,” Costa said in a statement.

Lisa Middle campaign

Lisa Middleman, who ran an unsuccessful 2019 campaign for Allegheny County District Attorney that nevertheless rallied criminal-justice reformers to her cause, now hopes to hear cases rather than argue them. She intends to run in what will likely be a wide-open contest for one of the open seats on Allegheny County’s Court of Common Pleas this year.  

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council delayed action for months on a parks tax that was approved by voters in 2019. But it took less than five minutes to approve when council held a final vote on the issue at its last meeting of 2020.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Police officials told City Council on last week that the bureau is making progress on a series of reforms — but they warned the force risked becoming less diverse at a time when racial tensions around policing have come to the forefront.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County won't start tabulating its last 35,000 ballots until tomorrow, including up to 29,000 from voters who originally got the wrong ballot. And although beginning that work Friday has been the plan for nearly a month now – a plan backed up by a federal court order – the brief hiatus in counting somehow managed to throw an already contentious election into even deeper chaos.

Matt Slocum / AP

Donald Trump’s campaign and Allegheny County Republicans challenged the eligibility of some 237 applications for mail-in ballots on Friday, barely meeting a 5 p.m. deadline for such a filing.

Trump campaign livestream

Trailing in a state he probably must win in order to be re-elected, Trump announced at a Saturday rally that he’d signed an order to ban efforts that ban fracking for natural gas. It's unclear how effective such an order would be, however, and voters may never find out: Democratic nominee Joe Biden has disavowed wanting to impose a ban, and would likely not be able to do so in any event.

Iovino and Robinson campaigns

The race in state Senate District 37 wasn’t always so contentious. This past summer, Republican Devlin Robinson got some positive press after his campaign found and returned the wallet of his rival, Democratic state Senator Pam Iovino. But at this point, it’s a miracle someone hasn’t been mugged.

Pennsylvania House, DelRosso campaign

Sitting in the late-summer sun at an outdoor restaurant in his hometown of Oakmont, Frank Dermody doesn't look like he has much to worry about. He’s been a state House member for nearly 30 years, and he’s led House Democrats for almost a decade. But if he wants to add to that legacy — and join a potential Democratic majority in the House next year — he'll first have to beat Republican Carrie DelRosso in the election next week.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid got a boost in western Pennsylvania from a one-time rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, this weekend. Sanders, a democratic socialist and political independent, espouses more ambitious policies on issues like the environment and healthcare, but said he and Biden have the same immediate goal: defeating the man Sanders called  “the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country,” as well as a “pathological liar.” 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Coming off a Tuesday night presidential debate that went off the rails, Democratic nominee Joe Biden visited Pittsburgh by train Wednesday afternoon, lashing President Donald Trump with a populist critique.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

This morning will mark a bid by Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to reaffirm its focus on economic messages, targeting some of the voting blocs – namely union workers and people of color – that are key to Democrats hopes in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania.

Trump campaign livestream

President Donald Trump characterized himself as a law-and-order president in a characteristically disordered campaign speech in Latrobe Thursday evening – a visit that likely heralds a busy fall election season in western Pennsylvania.

Summer Lee for PA

Local unions, particularly those tied to fracking and heavy industry, spurned state Rep. Summer Lee this spring, backing Democratic challenger Chris Roland in the June primary. And even after Lee easily won re-election in her Mon Valley district — even after a local union council lined up behind her — some in the labor movement are apparently having a hard time letting go.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A new poll of Pennsylvania voters shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a strong lead over President Donald Trump — but the voters themselves may not quite believe it.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pittsburgh will not be hosting its annual Labor Day parade this year, as one of the nation’s largest union gatherings – and a political touchstone in a crucial Election Year – joins the long list of events canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A half-dozen people involved in a June 1 East Liberty protest have filed a federal lawsuit against city of Pittsburgh officials, alleging that police violated their civil rights and “escalat[ed] a peaceful protest into a scene of pandemonium, panic, violence and bloodshed.”

Keith Srakocic / AP

Less than a year after producing a harrowing report on the health crisis facing black women in Pittsburgh, the city’s Gender Equity Commission has offered some solutions – with a focus on crises in policing and health care that have dominated headlines.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

At a Friday-morning appearance outside a Washington County bakery, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and local Congressman Guy Reschenthaler hailed the state’s economic re-opening while complaining that much of the state’s shutdown had never really been necessary in the first place. And while they denounced the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, they showed little enthusiasm for protesters' calls to reform policing in its wake.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

The votes are in – most of them, anyway – and in Allegheny County, there were at least two big groups of winners on Election Day: female candidates, and the elections workers themselves.

Matt Rourke / AP

Allegheny County elections officials spent Tuesday night and the early hours of Wednesday morning churning through hundreds of thousands of ballots for the primary election. Election officials called it a night around 2:30 a.m., having tallied more than 263,000 ballots, with more to go.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Given that Pennsylvania’s 2020 primary is taking place amid a global pandemic and nationwide unrest over policing, voting has preceded quietly in Allegheny County since the polls opened at 7 a.m. With two hours left to go before polls closed at 8 p.m., there were few problems to report -- although lines at some polling places were getting longer as the workday ended. An Allegheny County Judge, in fact, agreed to keep the polls open at the Penn Hills Libary on Stotler Road until 9 p.m., owing to concerns about access to the site. 

 

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

It began as a march, one of dozens across the United States, to protest the death of a black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. Thousands marched through Downtown Pittsburgh and the Lower Hill District, and even as they chanted “no justice, no peace,” the police kept their distance.

That changed after about two hours, as police cars were burned, buildings vandalized, and police used tear gas and horses to disperse crowds. Shortly after 7:30 p.m., public safety officials had declared a curfew to go into effect from 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday. 

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