Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, 10:21 p.m.
The sliver of Allegheny County Council seats held by women will shrink next year when new council members take office.
The 15-member council, dominated by white men, has five female members and will have two fewer in January.
“I’m concerned,” said Councilwoman Sue Means, R-Bethel Park, the only woman carrying over to the next council. “It’s sad that there’s not a better representation of women on the council. You definitely get a different perspective.”
Nearly 637,800 women live in the county, census data show, making up more than half the population.
Dana Brown, executive director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, said the loss of two women on County Council could be detrimental to public policy. She noted that the four women holding seats on the nine-member Pittsburgh City Council pushed for a mother’s room at the City-County Building, Downtown, for nursing mothers.
“For government for the people by the people, you actually want a government that looks like its people,” Brown said.
Five new County Council members will take seats in January:
• Oakdale Republican Sam DeMarco will replace Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh, R-Mt. Lebanon, in an at-large seat;
• Paul Klein, a Point Breeze Democrat, will replace Councilwoman Terri Klein, D-Squirrel Hill, in District 11. The two are not related;
• Cindy Kirk, a McCandless Republican, will replace Councilwoman Jan Rea, also a McCandless Republican, in District 2;
• Denise Ranalli-Russell, a Brighton Heights Democrat, will replace Councilwoman Amanda Green-Hawkins, D-Stanton Heights, in District 13;
• DeWitt Walton, a Hill District Democrat, will replace Councilman Bill Robinson, also a Hill District Democrat, in District 10.
The number of black council members will drop from two to one.
Green-Hawkins and Robinson are council’s only black members. Walton is black; Ranalli-Russell is not.
“I think you have to have more black faces and more black voices at county council,” Robinson said.
Robinson was the only man on council to vote against the controversial decision to drill for natural gas under Deer Lakes Park. No women on council voted for it.