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Voters in 35th Choose Gergely as Rep

Clean-sweep as Dems take special elections in 32nd and 34th districts

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
February 08, 2023
Posted in: Politics & Elections

Unofficial returns indicate that Matt Gergely has been elected to the 35th District of the state’s General Assembly, giving Democrats control of the state house. (Submitted photo via Facebook)

Matt Gergely appears to be on track to become the Mon Valley’s next state representative, taking the seat once held by his brother, Marc.

With 97 percent of the vote counted, unofficial results from the Allegheny County Division of Elections show Gergely, a Democrat from McKeesport, with an insurmountable 73 percent to 25 percent lead over Don Nevills, Clairton Republican.

Former McKeesport Councilman Paul Shelly Jr. was running an independent write-in campaign. Write-in votes account for less than 2 percent of the vote, according to county elections officials.

Gergely will fill the unexpired term of former state Rep. Austin Davis, who resigned after being elected Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor.

The timing of Tuesday’s special election was in doubt after Pennsylvania Republicans filed a lawsuit attempting to block the process, and two other special elections for vacant General Assembly seats.

Court decisions on Jan. 13 and Jan. 25 allowed the elections to take place as scheduled.

Gergely said Wednesday the accelerated campaign schedule was exhausting.

“We basically had to run a six-month campaign in less than 60 days,” he said. “It really takes a toll on your health.”

Gergely has served as McKeesport city administrator and business manager for McKeesport Area School District, and currently works as finance director for the city. This was his first run for elected office.

The 35th District includes the cities of Clairton, Duquesne and McKeesport; the boroughs of Homestead, Liberty, Lincoln, Munhall, Port Vue, Versailles, West Homestead, Whitaker and White Oak; a portion of West Mifflin borough; and South Versailles Twp. (Coulter).

Gergely thanked other Mon-Yough area legislators and elected officials for stepping up and helping him campaign during the abbreviated schedule.

A swearing-in ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 20, he said. “I’m really looking forward to getting to work,” Gergely said. Voters across the district have told him that reducing gun violence, eliminating blight and economic development are their top priorities, he said.

“I’m looking forward to doing what’s best for the district and working together with everyone there, on both sides of the aisle,” Gergely said.

Turnout for the special election was sparse, with county officials reporting that about 21 percent of registered voters heading to the polls or returning mail-in ballots.

Dems take 32nd, 34th district races

There were actually three special elections in Allegheny County on Tuesday. In the neighboring 34th District, voters overwhemlingly chose Abigail Salisbury, a Swissvale Democrat, over Republican Robert Pagane.

According to unofficial and incomplete returns from the Allegheny County Division of Elections, Salisbury was leading Pagane by 87 percent to 12 percent. Write-ins accounted for fewer than 1 percent of the vote.

The 34th District seat became vacant after former state Rep. Summer Lee was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, East Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Forest Hills, North Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale, Wilkins Twp. and Wilkinsburg, and parts of the 13th and 14th wards of the City of Pittsburgh.

In what amounts to a clean-sweep for Democrats, in the 32nd District, which includes Oakmont, Penn Hills Twp., Verona and parts of Plum Borough, unofficial returns from the Elections Division showed Joe McAndrew leading Republican Clay Walker by 74 percent to 25 percent.

The victories give Democrats control of the state General Assembly for the first time in more than a decade, with a 102-101 margin. Republicans have a 27 to 22 seat margin in the state Senate.

Originally published February 08, 2023.

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