Wagner Defeats Flaherty In County Controller Race

May 20, 2015

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner thanks supporters during her acceptance speech at Young Brothers Bar in Brighton Heights on Tuesday.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner credited her campaign team for her victory over challenger Mark Patrick Flaherty Tuesday night.

Supporters gathered at Young Brothers Bar in Brighton Heights, welcoming the incumbent with cheers shortly after Flaherty, himself a former controller, called to concede the primary.

“We ran a race that was grassroots, that was organic, that involved a lot of people having courage to step up and do what was right,” said Wagner, 37, of Point Breeze. “I’m so, so happy for that, and I’m happy for what that says about our region.”

Wagner took 52 percent of the vote to Flaherty's 48 percent, according to unofficial tallies. No Republicans ran.

During the campaign, Wagner accused Flaherty, 53, of Mt. Lebanon of being a part of a "good old boys network," and said that she brings independence to the office she has held for the last three-and-a-half years.

Mark Patrick Flaherty thanks supporters after a brief concession speech at Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers headquarters Tuesday evening.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Her critics, including Flaherty and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, have said she’s politicized the office.

Wagner maintained that her only goal is to serve the residents of Allegheny County and to make sure their tax dollars are well spent.

“All of you here know that this election was always about all of you,” Wagner told the small crowd. “I’ve never seen a race, certainly that I’ve been involved in, that that’s been more true, and that’s what I’m so proud of.”

Across town at the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers headquarters on the South Side, Flaherty apologized to his supporters.

“Unfortunately, we fell a little short,” Flaherty said. “I want to congratulate the winner, Chelsa Wagner on her great campaign, want to move forward. We’re all Democrats, so we’re going to march forward with this.”