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Chelsa Wagner Announces for Controller

State Representative Chelsa Wagner (D-Brookline) announced her candidacy for Allegheny County Controller. Rumored as a candidate last week, today Wagner officially joins what is likely to be a crowded primary field for the office.

Wagner was elected to the State House in 2006 and has focused her efforts in Harrisburg on government reform. Prior to winning elected office, she served in a variety of civic leadership roles in Pittsburgh.

Wagner is party of a political dynasty in Pittsburgh. Her father is a ward chairman in Beechview, her aunt is on the PA Democratic Committee and served previously as Allegheny County Register of Wills, and her uncle is Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Wagner announced her candidacy in a letter to Allegheny County Democratic Committee members. The Committee’s endorsement is seen as key in this race. Wagner wrote:

“As residents of Allegheny County, we know that our government is in the midst of the most tumultuous time in recent history.  The need for government oversight couldn’t be greater and the election for County Controller is the best opportunity for the voters to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately and government operates efficiently.”

“Yet, with deepening  budget deficits and looming property tax reassessments, the challenge is not only how we make ends meet to address our short-term needs, but also how we position ourselves for the future. The county controller must not merely shine light on what is wrong; She must also lead and take action to find what is right.”

Historically the County Controller has a leg up in the race for County Executive, so the office is seen as a major political prize. Accordingly, a number of other potential candidates have signaled their interest.

State Rep. Nick Kotik, D-Coraopolis, another rumored candidate, says he will make a decision on his candidacy within the next 10 days.

“It’s going to be a wide open race for that decision, and I’m still making up my mind whether to seek the party endorsement in late February or early March. It will be up to committee people in Allegheny County to see who they think is the most qualified for that position,” Kotik told PoliticsPA.

George Matta, the former county clerk of courts now working for The Rivers Casino, and Valerie McDonald Roberts, the manager of the Allegheny County’s department of real estate are also considering bids for controller according to the Post-Gazette.

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