Challengers sweep elections to North Side community group | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Challengers sweep elections to North Side community group

The members of the Central Northside Neighborhood Council voted for a change of direction May 12 by electing seven new members to its board of directors. But the question remains: What were they changing?

The seven winners were all endorsed by the Moving FORWARD slate, which challenged the current board's transparency while promising to "improve board accountability and responsiveness" (See "Flying the Coup," May 7).

Critics of Moving FORWARD, however, have argued that its candidates -- who hail from the Mexican War Streets -- are more concerned with their property values than preserving the community's diversity and affordability.

The CNNC is a nonprofit corporation that represents the neighborhood in many of the area's major development projects. Half of its 14-member board is up for election each year.

This year, the field numbered 19 candidates, roughly divided between those endorsed by the current board, and Moving FORWARD's slate of challengers. A handful of candidates were either endorsed by neither slate or dropped out prior to voting.

Greg Spicer was the top vote-getter with 125 (more than 60 percent of the 199 votes cast). He was followed in order by Bill Buettin, Randy Zotter, Kirk Burkley, Chris D'Addario, John Augustine and Randi Marshak.

"I'm surprised" by the results, Zotter said, adding, "Now the work begins."

Zotter said his first priority is to get Monday's 200 voters to keep coming to the council's monthly meetings.

The election was the end of a long campaign and what felt like a longer evening. Leading up to the election, Internet chatrooms have been abuzz with candidates side-swiping one another.

"I've had enough of this election's divisiveness," Buettin wrote in one post just before the election.

Khari Mosley -- who says that he is philosophically aligned with the current board, but was not one of its recommended candidates -- withdrew his name prior to the vote, citing the contentious atmosphere as one of the reasons.

"What's gone on in the community in the past couple of months deeply concerns me," Mosley said.

In an interview, he added that the rigors of his work schedule, as the national political director for the League of Young Voters, also contributed to his decision. But he reiterated a lack of unity was his main concern.

"This is an opportunity to bring a community together," Mosley said. "I've seen in the past, issues like this tear a community apart."

What effect the Moving FORWARD sweep will have on the board is a question yet to be answered.

"Did you see Charlie Wilson's War?" board president Claudia Keyes asked, citing the film about American support of Afghan rebels who fought off an invasion by the Soviet Union -- then later provided sanctuary for anti-Western terrorists. "The end of the movie is, 'We'll see.'"

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