‘We All Want Jobs, We All Want Growth’: Fitzgerald Optimistic On Working With Republicans

Nov 16, 2016

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says he's not deterred by the more largely Republican state legislature, but that state Republicans have been "very helpful."
Credit Paul Guggenheimer / 90.5 WESA

The results of last week’s election left many political leaders stunned and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was no exception. Not only was Fitzgerald disappointed to see Hillary Clinton lose after strongly supporting her campaign, he was surprised to see Pennsylvania go into the win column for a Republican for the first time since 1988.

“As I looked at the numbers, I guess maybe it shouldn’t have been as surprising as it was,” Fitzgerald said. “When you look at Allegheny County, we actually outperformed any year we’ve ever had. We had about 30,000 more voters than we had four years ago. However, once you left Allegheny County, it was not only a sea of red, it was an overwhelming amount of red.”

Like his colleague, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Fitzgerald enjoyed a warm relationship with President Obama, a fellow Democrat. With Republican Donald Trump taking office, it remains to be seen whether the county will receive the same amount of attention and support.

But Fitzgerald must also be concerned about his relationship with the state legislature which saw its Republican majority increase in the general election. However, Fitzgerald said that may not make it harder for him to achieve his legislative priorities.

“We’ll see,” Fitzgerald said. “I must say that the Republican legislators in Pennsylvania have been very helpful. So things like transportation we were able to do in a bi-partisan manner. Things like economic development initiatives, initiatives at our airport there has been bi-partisan support for. We all want jobs, we all want growth. If there are good plans pushed forward to do infrastructure, to do transportation, to do workforce development, I think there will be bi-partisan support for that.”

Meanwhile, Allegheny County reached a deal with Rivers Casino, similar to the one-year deal the city made to ensure that $10 million in gaming revenue continues to go toward the city’s budget.

“We typically get between $5.5 and $6 million a year,” Fitzgerald said. “And going forward we’ll get the same amount.”