Recently, I got a chance to chat with Pittsburgh City Council President, Doug Shields. The first part of our dicussion can be found here.
I asked him how his own campaign (for City Controller)was going. He said it's "going very well." He's happy with how the endorsements are going, he's happy with his fundraising (a recent fundraiser raised $30K). While he was late to campaign, he's happy with his progress.
He said he was happy with his polling numbers and said they'd found out that out of the 400 households polled, amongst those who voted, he came in first with 26% (followed by his opponents polling at 20% and 15% respectively). The P-G, though, reported slightly different numbers here (Shields at 19% followed by his two opponents polling at 18% and 16% respectively). My guess is that Shields' phrase "amongst those who voted" skewed the numbers in his favor. But that's just a guess, I haven't been able to see the poll's internal numbers.
The thing that I had to ask, though, was about his current seat. See, Doug's the current City Council Member for District 5. If he wins the City Controller race, he'd have to resign the seat on City Council.
So far, it's a complicated picture. His opponent for the council seat, Theresa Colaizzi, dropped out of the race this past Friday - so he's running unopposed there. Shields has a number of opponents for the City Controller position. While he won the party's endorsement for his council seat, he came in third in the run for the endorsement for City Controller. See? Complicated.
I asked him what would be gained and what would be lost with the change, if he were to succeed? He explained that he'd be able to bring a lot more to the table as City Controller.
The Controller, he explained, is a check and balance on the local level. At the national level the government's checks and balances are found in the three branches of government; The Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Locally, Shields says the tripartite system of checks and balances are found in these three; Mayor's Office, City Council and the Controller.
The Controller's office is, he says, a "fair witness" for the people - someone to keep up with the numbers. It's a position that can challenge the mayor's office in ways the city council can't.
His first priority (and I need a ruling from the judges on my use of the phrase "first priority." Isn't that a redundancy? Is there really comething called a second priority? If something is a priority, doesn't it, by definition, come first? I really need to know.) is a reorganization of the Controller's office. The software is easily a decade old (He said they had to run Window's 96 to operate it).
After Act 47 (and Shields pointed to Act 47 as the point where Pittsburgh "went down the toilet.") the city needs to elect someone to keep track of the numbers.
He thinks he's just the guy for the job.
I'll be contacting his opponents to for their views on the race this week.