Voters in the Eastern municipalities of Allegheny County will chose between a longtime incumbent and an accountant for County Council’s District 8 seat Nov. 7.
Democrat Charles Martoni has been the district’s councilman for 17 years. He’s held various elected positions for nearly 50 years and is the president of the Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce campus. He said his experience is key to his understanding of the issues facing Allegheny County.
The Swissvale resident said if he's re-elected to council, he’ll prioritize making sure the county can pay for services without raising taxes.
“The way we want to move forward is to expand our base,” Martoni said. “We bring in the population, we bring in business, we bring in industry and they all pay a percentage of taxes. Therefore, the overall tax rate doesn’t increase.”
Martoni didn’t offer specific legislative solutions that would encourage people and industry to move to the county, but said he wants to make sure county leadership stays “enlightened” as it tries to incentivize newcomers to make Allegheny County their home.
“What’s good about western Pennsylvania? What’s good about Allegheny County?” Martoni asked. “Believe me, when you start making a list of what’s good here, you’re going to have a big list.”
Taxation is also a key agenda item for Martoni’s challenger, Republican Mike Dell. Dell, who is an accountant and the finance chair of Plum Borough Council, said he’d like to look at the county’s recent budget increase of $30 million, and evaluate where cuts can be made, and revenue streams leveraged without raising taxes.
“Our population is not growing in Allegheny County,” Dell said. “So to increase spending at this rapid pace, something has to happen. I really suspect there’s going to be an increase or a new tax coming down the road.”
Dell said he’d like to look at ways to make Allegheny County more attractive to residents, saying it’s currently facing competition from its neighbors.
“The big areas that are growing right now are Cranberry, Washington and Westmoreland Counties,” Dell said. “We really have a lot to offer in Allegheny County.”
Dell said he’s also concerned about the proposed $1 billion upgrade to Pittsburgh International Airport.
Both candidates said they’ll focus on bi-partisan legislation and work with local municipalities to address the opioid crisis.
District 8 includes Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, East McKeesport, East Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Monroeville, North Braddock, Pitcairn, Plum, Rankin, Swissvale, Trafford (1st District), Turtle Creek, Wall, Whitaker and Wilmerding. As of the 2010 census, there were 96,194 residents in the district.