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Combating Opioids, Increasing Accessibility Are Top Issues In County Council District 1 Race

90.5 WESA
Republican Tom Baker (left) and Democrat Jack Betkowski (right) are running for a seat representing District 1 on Allegheny County Council.

Republican incumbent County Councilman Tom Baker has a challenger for the seat he’s held since 2014 thanks to a successful write-in campaign from Democrat Jack Betkowski.

A week before the primary election, Betkowski, who is a Ross Township commissioner, decided to run for a seat to represent Ross, Moon, North Fayette, Findlay and other northeastern townships. He said he wants to increase public transparency and takes issue with the fact that meetings are held Downtown at 5 p.m.

“One thing that I’d like to work with the other members on County Council is to hold meetings around the county. I’m not aware of any reason why meetings have to be held Downtown. I think it’s probably for the convenience of the council members,” he said.

Baker said he wants to continue work that makes people’s lives easier.

“A big part of what we do is connect people who live in our district to the people that work in the county government and hopefully can enable them to receive services in a more timely manner and a more effective manner,” he said.

Baker said if he wins re-election, he will continue to work with the Port Authority to increase accessibility for riders in his district. He said he especially wants to see expanded service for Perry Highway in Ross Township.

Credit Allegheny County Health Department / provided

Both candidates said finding solutions to combat the opioid crisis should be a top priority.

Baker said he wants to promote more drug takeback events: “I just want to continue being an advocate for that issue by doing anything, even if it’s just the small things... It’s something that we all, all 15 of us truthfully, should be doing every day to help with.” 

Betkowski said other counties have been more aggressive in independently establishing further treatment options, and he wants Allegheny County to focus on options that prevent relapse for people being released from jail.

According to the 2010 census, 94,768 people live in District 1 which includes Aleppo, Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights, Coraopolis, Emsworth, Findlay, Glen Osborne, Glenfield, Haysville, Kilbuck, Moon, North Fayette, Ross and Westview.