Chris Potter

Government & Accountability Editor

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.

And yes, that is his real hair.

He can be reached at 412-930-8006 or at cpotter@wesa.fm.

Allegheny County Council

Allegheny County councilor Sam DeMarco, the top Republican elected official in Allegheny County, is the county party's new chair after a Saturday morning vote in a Greentree hotel. He beat his rival, committee treasurer Bronco Brnardic, 213 to 157.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania Republicans are poised to select a new leader in Hershey this Saturday, and early indications are that the fight to replace Val DiGiorgio could be bruising.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Republicans failed to elect a new leader last week – so they are taking another shot at it next Saturday, this time with one fewer candidate and a different set of rules.

Courtesy of Bethany Hallam's campaign.

One day after WESA reported that local Democratic Party leaders had no means of removing a committee member accused of physically accosting a black 13-year-old boy, a newly elected county councilor says it’s time for the party to change its rules.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh city firefighter and member of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee is facing misdemeanor charges for his role in a racially charged altercation, recordings of which have led to controversy online and on the airwaves. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The man accused of plotting to bomb a North Side church made his first appearance in federal court Friday morning. After hearing testimony from an FBI agent, federal Magistrate Judge Cynthia Eddy found there was probable cause to keep Mustafa Mousab Alowemer behind bars.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On Monday, Democrats on Allegheny County Council spent hours interviewing a dozen candidates to replace the late Charles Martoni. When County Council voted on a replacement Tuesday, the discussion was far briefer and featured only one name: that of Plum Borough attorney Paul Zavarella.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Police reform was a top concern when Democrats on Allegheny County Council interviewed a dozen candidates seeking to replace the late Charles Martoni on Monday. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Democrats on Allegheny County Council are slated to meet Monday with a dozen hopefuls who wish to replace Charles Martoni as the representative for Council District 8. 

Photo submitted by Bhavini Patel

At first, Bhavini Patel might seem like an unlikely candidate for Allegheny County Council. At age 25, she’s finishing up a master’s program at the University of Oxford, and runs a tech startup that tries to measure and encourage public engagement. The 15-member council may seem to have less to offer: The part-time legislative body is typically overshadowed by the county executive, and members serve for a stipend of $9,000 a year. 

Patrick Doyle / 90.5 WESA

After a nearly hourlong court hearing Tuesday morning, Washington County President Judge Katherine Emery lifted a gag order that prevented Allegheny Front reporter Reid Frazier from publishing terms of a confidential 2018 settlement between a property owner and natural gas-driller Range Resources.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Amid concerns about his party’s direction locally and across the state, D. Raja is stepping down as the chair of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Darlene Harris’ political career may have come to an end on Tuesday, when she lost her bid to be re-elected to Pittsburgh City Council. But if it’s time to write her political epitaph, it may well read “Defiant To The End.”

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

In 2017, when Magistrate District Judge Mikhail Pappas and Allegheny County Councilor Anita Prizio beat well-established incumbents in the fall, many observers figured the candidates – who’d each been backed by the Democratic Socialists of America – had merely caught incumbents sleeping in low-interest races. 

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Challenger Bethany Hallam toppled John DeFazio in the race for the Democratic "at-large" seat on Allegheny County Council — the latest case in which an upstart progressive challenger toppled a well-established Democrat. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Voting is underway in this year’s primary elections, even if it is hard to tell. 

Although offices including county executive, county controller and county treasurer are on the ballot, they are not contested on either the Republican and Democratic ballot. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilors Ricky Burgess and Daniel Lavelle are unveiling legislation to address racial inequality on Tuesday, the latest in a series of moves intended to include marginalized communities in the city’s much-touted resurgence. The legislation will require additional reporting from city officials and developers about their efforts on behalf of, and their impacts on, low-income residents and racial minorities in the city.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Former Vice President Joe Biden held the first rally of his 2020 campaign in a Lawrenceville union hall Monday afternoon, telling a crowd of hundreds that his first goal as president would be “to restore the soul of this nation. The second is to rebuild the backbone of this nation. The third is to unify this nation. We always do better when we act as one America.”

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Joe Biden’s choice of Pittsburgh as the site for his first campaign rally reflects, among other things, the central role that he hopes organized labor will play in his bid for the White House. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has spent years trying to get big tax-exemptions to help pay for social and environmental needs. He still appears to be a ways off from officially launching the effort, dubbed "OnePGH," but based on a public discussion of those goals on Thursday, his vision for it may actually be broadening.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Settlement talks were underway in an ACLU lawsuit against the McKeesport Area School District on Tuesday afternoon, although a resolution didn’t necessarily sound close. 

Americans Against Socialism treasurer Robert Kania filed campaign finance documents on Tuesday, outlining the group’s efforts to oppose state Rep. Sara Innamorato’s campaign in the 21st district five months ago. The move follows a campaign-finance complaint against the political committee.

Antonio Licon / WESA

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont - whose upstart 2016 campaign shook up the Democratic primary - returned to Pittsburgh Sunday, bringing a familiar, if updated, message that called for a wholesale remaking of the country’s economic and political underpinnings.  

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has historically been a city concerned about too many people leaving, but these days, concerns have shifted to what types of people are coming into the city. A study out last month by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition called Pittsburgh one of the fastest gentrifying cities in the country. 

Robert Kania, a Port Authority of Allegheny County board member and Republican donor, is registering Americans Against Socialism with state election officials – four months after 90.5 WESA first reported on the group’s failure to disclose its activities, and within a day of a Washington D.C. activist group’s call for an investigation of the matter.

Despite the move, Gov. Tom Wolf removed him from the transit agency's board Thursday afternoon.

90.5 WESA

Last fall, mysterious political yard signs popped up in the Pittsburgh area asking voters to “Vote Against Socialism! Write in: Dom Costa” for state representative. 

Courtesy the Iovino campaign

State Senator-elect Pam Iovino’s Tuesday-night special election win over Republican D. Raja won’t attract the same attention Conor Lamb’s did when he was elected to Congress last year.

But both Democrats triumphed in the southern and western suburbs of Pittsburgh, prevailing over Republican attacks based heavily on national issues.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA (left) Courtesty of the Iovino campaign (right)

Democrat Pam Iovino has won the special election in state Senate District 37, riding a tide of support from unions and Democratic officials to beat Republican D. Raja. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Residents in the airport area and South Hills will vote in a special election Tuesday, choosing a state Senator in the 37th district to replace Guy Reschenthaler, who went to Congress earlier this year. The winner will represent them through the end of 2020 -- and the race itself may shape many other election contests that year.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Two candidates running for the District 1 seat on Pittsburgh City Council, Quincy Swatson and Chris Rosselot, have withdrawn from the race.

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