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Democrat Barb Warwick wins seat on Pittsburgh City Council vacated by Corey O'Connor

Barb Warwick plans to compete for the City Council seat in District 5
Barbara Warwick
Barb Warwick plans to compete for the City Council seat in District 5

Democrat Barb Warwick has won a landslide victory in the special election to replace Corey O’Connor as the Pittsburgh City Councilor for District 5. O’Connor resigned the seat after he became Allegheny County Controller this summer.

Warwick dominated the standings early and has held a considerable margin over her competitors with 11,579 votes, about 74% of votes as of Wednesday. That’s 8,581 more votes than her Republican opponent, Eugene Bokor. Bokor earned 2,998 votes, about 19% of votes, as of Wednesday.

Independents Matthew Mahoney and Robert McCune took 5% and 0.8% of the votes, respectively.

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Warwick was a clear frontrunner in the race to represent Pittsburgh’s heavily Democratic 5th District. The Southeastern district encompasses Squirrel Hill South, Greenfield, Regent Square, Swisshelm Park, Hazelwood, Glen Hazel, Hays, New Homestead and Lincoln Place.

Warwick, a Greenfield community advocate, became active in a fight against the Mon-Oakland Connector transit project, which was ultimately shelved in the face of neighborhood opposition. She told WESA last month that when she began campaigning for the seat outside her neighborhood, she found the same concerns: "I hear a lot of people say, 'We feel forgotten. Nobody cares about us.' I think people are really hoping to have someone listen and respond in a proactive way."

Warwick’s win will mark the first time in decades that someone from Greenfield will represent the district. For a generation, the district has been represented by someone from Squirrel Hill — either O'Connor or his late father, Bob, or the elder O'Connor's one-time aide, Doug Shields.

Bokor, a retired nonprofit executive who lives in Lincoln Place, said part of his reason for running was to give voters an alternative to the Democrats. “The prior four years, there was a Democrat there [on the ballot] and no Republican running,” Bokor said. “So at least the people of District 5 have a choice this time.”

The people of District 5 chose Democrat.

Warwick will assume the seat once the election results are certified, according to the city. She’ll serve out the remainder of O’Connor’s term, which ends in 2023. That means Warwick will have to run for the seat again next year.

She’s already made clear some of her stances on issues before council. Warwick spoke in favor of the city launching a $10 million food justice fund last month. She’s also keen on community involvement in planning the future of the city’s Hazelwood neighborhood, where a massive mixed-use redevelopment is in the works.

"There's a lot of opportunity coming forward in the next 5 to 10 years," Warwick said. "And I think that this will be a chance to really do it right [with] development that benefits the community."

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.