Sara Innamorato announces bid for county executive, calling for greater focus on inequality | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Sara Innamorato announces bid for county executive, calling for greater focus on inequality

click to enlarge Sara Innamorato announces bid for county executive, calling for greater focus on inequality
CP Photo: Jordana Rosenfeld
State rep. Sara Innamorato announces her run for Allegheny County Executive at Sprezzatura in Millvale on Thu., Dec. 15, 2022.
State Rep. Sara Innamorato has launched her campaign for Allegheny County Executive with the backing of powerful local leaders.

Speaking this morning at Sprezzatura in Millvale, Innamorato (D-Lawrenceville) said promised to bring a new era of county leadership. Current Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is term-limited and will step down from the position he has held since 2011 at the end of next year.

“This is such a critical moment in Allegheny County,” Innamorato said. “We are beyond the need for caretakers of an economy devastated by the loss of manufacturing.”

During her launch speech, Innamorato addressed what she sees as the major issues facing the county, such as a lack of affordable housing and the need to increase investment in community-based resources and a stronger social safety net.

“I know that together, and only together, we can tackle the reality that for far too long for many in this county, day-to-day life is too expensive and it’s too hard,” Innamorato said. “But we have the power to change it. I know together we will provide housing to help our neighbors stay in their homes, make property taxes affordable and fair, and protect renters from soaring costs. We will hold polluters accountable and build a green economy here that is good for our environment and our region’s long-term growth and provide good paying union jobs.”

Innamorato also spoke of her vision for a regional criminal legal system that prioritizes healing and rehabilitation, mentioning the need for new leadership at the Allegheny County Jail.

“We will work with our leaders all over this county to provide solutions that we know get to the root causes of violent crime. We will lean into mental health supports, young programming, and investing in strong communities that keep everyone safe. We will reform the Allegheny County Jail and put real money into trauma-informed care and rehabilitation.”

A local progressive leader, Innamorato has represented District 21 in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since defeating incumbent Dom Costa in 2018. She won re-election to that seat last month.

Sharpsburg Mayor Brittany Reno, Casa San Jose executive director Monica Ruiz, UPMC registered nurse Jodi Faltin, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, and Congressmember-elect Summer Lee introduced Innamorato and endorsed her candidacy in statements that emphasized the need for a collaborative response to regional issues and a greater focus on racial and economic inequality.

Monica Ruiz praised Innamorato’s commitment to the ongoing work of making Allegheny County livable for all residents.

“Sara believes that a better world can and will exist, and she works very hard every day to make sure that it does,” Ruiz said. “She works with folks from both sides of the aisle to advance policies that help our most vulnerable.”

Mayor Ed Gainey agreed, calling Innamorato “a leader with a heart.”

“Everything that we believe in, she’s fought for,” said Gainey. “She hasn’t talked about it, she’s demonstrated it. And that’s the main reason why I’m happy to be here because I know a lot of leaders, but it’s different when you have a leader with a heart, when you have a leader that really leads because they believe in people.”

Lee touted Innamorato’s role in the recent launch of the Whole Home Repairs Program, which she called “first-of-its-kind legislation in this country,” as an example of Innamorato’s ability to deliver economic relief to struggling Pennsylvanians. The program, passed earlier this year, provides funding for home repairs to low-and moderate-income homeowners and small landlords renting affordable units, 

Lee said she wants to see a different approach to county leadership and pegged Innamorato as the answer.

“We need someone at the executive level,” Lee continued. “Our mayor needs a partner at the county, someone who’s going to cooperate with us and not fight us. We need someone who’s going to be committed to our climate crisis and not ignore it. We need someone who understands the urgencies facing Black and Brown folks and not push us under a rug … We need somebody that understands that at the county level we need equity right now.”

Innamorato also spoke about her upbringing, which she says plays a central role in her political priorities. She said she grew up in Ross Township, where the eventual discovery of her father’s opioid use disorder and his subsequent death caused the loss of “the universe of possibilities [her father] contained” and “our home, savings, and stability.” 

Of her priorities for improving Allegheny County, Innamorato said, “It’s a long and visionary list and it’s a lot of work to do … and it’s not gonna happen overnight. Progress takes time. But there are real and tangible things that we can and should do today. It just takes vision and the people power to get it done. So let’s get beyond big names, big money, and big excuses that hold us back and tackle our problems head-on.”

Innamorato joins a crowded field that includes Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb, DHS contractor Erin McClelland, County Councilmember Olivia Bennett, and former County Councilmember Dave Fawcett.