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Politics & Government

Republican Mayoral Candidate Promises 'Real Change' in City Government

The battle lines are set for the general election for the next mayor of Pittsburgh.

Democratic City Councilman Bill Peduto emerged victorious from a field of four primary contenders, while lone Republican candidate Josh Wander secured his party's nomination with no trouble Tuesday night.

Now, Wander finds himself facing long odds; a Republican hasn't held the mayor's office since 1934.

"Forty percent of (Allegheny) County Democrats vote straight party, which means they walk into the polling booth, they pull a lever, and they walk out and they have no clue who they just voted for," Wander said. "It's really hard to overcome those kind of numbers."

He's running on a platform of fiscal responsibility and "real change" on Grant Street. Wander said he thinks Peduto, as a two-term councilman, should take some responsibility for corruption and dysfunction in city government.

"So, when he's speaking about a lack of transparency, and the fact that nothing was done about the bank accounts in the police department, or whether any investigations were done into the current mayor's affairs, I think that was the responsibility of Council to oversee that," Wander said. "Unfortunately, they failed at it."

Wander said Democrats may have had control of the city for nearly eight decades, but he countered that their oversight came during a time of massive population loss and ongoing corruption.

"When you have such a long time that one party is ruling, regardless of which party it is, it doesn't matter if it's Republican or Democrat, it is unhealthy for a city, because it lacks any accountability," Wander said.

The 42-year-old Republican nominee is a Pittsburgh native who currently lives in Squirrel Hill with his wife and six children. He earned a master's degree in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2003, he was elected as state constable for the borough of White Oak.

Previously, he spent extensive time in Israel. Not only did Wander earn his bachelor's degree in Talmudic law from a rabbinical college in Jerusalem, but he also served in several combat branches of the Israeli military for more than 10 years. Wander was also an adviser to the Israeli parliament for four years and spent four years as online editor for the Jerusalem Post afterward.