After a contentious election season and a six-way ticket, Sara Innamorato has come out on top with 37% of the vote and the Democratic nomination in the race to become the next county executive.
The role, currently held by Rich Fitzgerald, is considered one of most powerful in Pennsylvania government, as it oversees the state’s second-largest county.
Innamorato made a name for herself as a progressive in her time as a Pennsylvania state representative. During her campaign, with endorsements from the likes of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, US Rep. Summer Lee, Emily’s List, Clean Water and even Jane Fonda’s Climate PAC, she doubled down on receiving support from fellow progressives.
As PublicSource noted, she won the race over “well-established party hands — largely without courting the business community.” Where does she stand on tech and business issues?
Through the years Innamorato has been a friend to unions, so much so that throughout the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s seven-month strike, she’s refused to give the newspaper an interview out of solidarity with the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh. Prior to 2023, she could be seen joining the picket lines with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union outside of Kellogg’s factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Such actions have gained her endorsements from the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Pittsburgh Starbucks Workers the United, and Service Employees International Union’s Pittsburgh chapter.
I stand with the #UPMCStrikers today and every day.
Fight with me. Demand more from UPMC. Tell them you won’t stand for their union busting ways. ✊https://t.co/XUXK7KRcq2 https://t.co/QX9wrmGNuD
— Sara Innamorato (@Innamo) October 4, 2018
Members of the @BCTGM are on strike at the Kellogg’s factory in Lancaster.
We stood with them Monday night, but you can show your solidarity by making a donation to their strike fund! #1u https://t.co/mAAilYm6EL pic.twitter.com/YSnKW7wiJS
— Sara Innamorato (@Innamo) October 26, 2021
Since she was elected to state office in 2018, Innamorato has been a vocal critic of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on the grounds that it treated its employees who desired a union unfairly, and is a monopoly.
Innamorato has also criticized ecommerce giant Amazon for its status as a “union buster.” And when Pittsburgh was in the running to become the company’s second headquarters in 2018, while Innamorato didn’t entirely oppose the proposal, she stated at the time that it was imperative that Amazon would need to commit to paying its share of taxes, paying workers a fair wage, and that there would need to be full transparency throughout the discussion process.
While in office, Innamorato has stated that it’s important to balance supporting businesses operating in the city with the needs of community residents. This sentiment has taken the form of calling for affordable housing so long-time residents aren’t priced out of neighborhoods and supporting living wages.
As of 2022, Innamorato has been a member of the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority’s board after being named by Mayor Gainey, with an aim to foster an equitable economy for Pittsburghers. Innamorato recently voted in favor of authorizing $9 million in federal relief pandemic funding to be put towards preserving affordable housing.
As a board member of the URA, this month we approved $9 million in Federal pandemic relief funds to spend on preserving existing affordable housing—showing my continued commitment to use existing infrastructure to provide safe and affordable housing.https://t.co/2Kbhor1tZg
— Sara Innamorato (@Innamo) February 27, 2023
Reply to a Pittsburgh Business Times county executive candidate survey this month, Innamorato emphasized that under her, economic growth would come from creating good jobs and green initiatives. Here was her pitch for why she was the best candidate for the broader business community:
“Government exists to level the playing field and create the conditions under which all residents can thrive.
The private sector needs a strong public sector to ensure vital investments are made in our public goods, like infrastructure and social services. I will be a county executive who is collaborative and builds partnerships with colleagues at the federal, state and local levels, as well as across industry sectors. In turn, we will have a healthy tax base, a well-trained workforce to allow for economic growth and attract investment and residents with the expendable income required to support private businesses. This is the only path to sustainable growth.”
Innamorato has typically taken a measured stance on autonomous vehicles during her time in office.
In 2019, she said via Twitter after a Pittsburgh City Council public hearing that autonomous vehicles held promise for the future, but residents should have a say in any conversations about the technology’s implementation in the future.
In June 2022, however, she voted against the legislation that lifted the human-driver requirement for self-driving cars in the state. Prior to the vote, Innamorato tried to amend the bill to mandate that a human driver be present when moving goods across state lines or in cases when the vehicles were transporting more than eight vehicles. Ultimately her amendment failed, and in the end, Innamorato’s objection to the legislation wasn’t due to an issue with the technology itself, but the union workers she worried might be displaced.
Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Autonomous vehicle technology offers tremendous promise, but the conversations about its impacts aren’t being driven by people. Thank you @Pgh4PubTransit and @CityofPgh Council for holding today’s hearing on equity, public safety, and economic development for all. pic.twitter.com/EqKxovodDi
— Rep. Sara Innamorato (@RepInnamorato) July 23, 2019
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