Saturday, February 8, 2014

Two More 1964 Club-backed Committee Candidates

Talk about qualified! And even better, both Dolores Gluck and Milton Brauman won their Allegheny County Democratic Committee seats in what was then the ward's 21st District, located north of Forbes and south of Wilkins, between Wightman and Murray.

 And for a bonus blast from the past, here's Shirley Stark's letter to prospective committee constituents from 1966. She lived along the Schenley Park Golf Course, on Darlington Road, in what is now the 38th District. Again, qualifications galore and a really strong letter--Pitt and University of Chicago grad, two young children in public school, and deeply involved in local political and neighborhood groups (note that Shirley highlighted her leadership in getting a "ladycop" assigned to the intersection of Beacon and Wightman--while the nomenclature may change with the times, the need for civic-minded community activism remains).

Friday, February 7, 2014

Running for Committee in 1964--Almost as Big as The Beatles!

The club's archives include an interesting collection of campaign paraphernalia from, of all things, Allegheny County Democratic Committee races.

The position clearly carried more weight back in the salad days of patronage and ward chair power. Many committee races involved more than one candidate (a rare occurrence nowadays, for better or worse), and in a few primary elections the club ran an extensive slate of endorsed candidates in a bid to take over the ward.

According to a 1964 Pittsburgh Press article about the club, "Dr. Eugene Sucov, chairman of the 14th Ward Independent Democrats, announced his group will seek to elect 37 members of the Ward Democratic Committee." One of those committee hopefuls was current club board member Nat Hershey. (Here's a headshot of Nat in 1964.)

Also seeking a committee seat was another club founder, Celeste Behrend, who died in 2009-- Obituary: Celeste S. Behrend / Liberal political activist in city's 14th Ward.

Posted below are the entire results of the 1964 14th Ward committee elections, along with a list of club-backed candidates and a map of the districts at that time (there were 32, compared to to 41 today.) Unfortunately, many of the club's candidates lost that year, including Nat, Carol Berger and Marcum Schneider. However, Celeste prevailed, and of course, Nat and other club candidates would be elected to the committee in subsequent elections.

Note the number of contested races, some with three or more candidates, as well as some of the razor-thin margins of victory. For example, in District 7, in the heart of Point Breeze, Thomas Mahon beat Thomas Sheehy by one vote, 152 to 151, with the club's candidate, Richard Rieker, taking another 82 votes. Or how about 546 votes cast for four male candidates in District 15, near Blue Slide Park? That's a huge number compared to contemporary turnouts.

Not a bad level of interest for an unpaid, under-appreciated, bottom-rung position on the Democratic Party ladder!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Be Picky Elect Bicky"

Beatrice "Bicky" Goldszer was one committed committee person, as evidenced by her wide-ranging constituent services and multi-point community action plan listed in the campaign flier below. No date is indicated on the literature, but the mid- to late-1980s would be a good guess, judging by the font style and the fact that National Night Out started in 1984--Bicky was a prime mover in expanding the public safety event in the 14th Ward. Bicky was an active club board member and helped to organize a number of club fundraisers, including the sixth annual "Swanky Ball" (see photo in this post).

CLARIFICATION: Long-time club board member and former Pittsburgh Public Schools board member Liz Healy reports that this flier was circulated in 1990, when she and Bicky squared off in a school board race.

"Let's Start Building a Sub-stratum of Real Democracy ..."

It doesn't quite have the ring of, say, "Remember the Maine, Down with Spain", but former club president Bill Behrend's call to action in 1976 highlights one of the club's catalyzing issues: reform and control of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee in the 14th Ward.
 Note the list of endorsed committee candidates below. Dr. Cyril Wecht's name is circled for some reason. He would quit the club the next year in a dispute over the its mayoral endorsement, as detailed here. Other endorsed committee candidates include club founders Celeste Behrend, Molly Yard Garrett and Janet Kreisman, former club president Mary Hall, and Michelle Madoff, who would become an outspoken member of Pittsburgh City Council in 1978.
The boxed text indicates that the committee was elected every two years. The cycle has now been expanded to four years and this year, 2014, all committee seats are again up for grabs. In fact, an important deadline is fast approaching. Any prospective candidate must collect 10 signatures from registered Democrats in their committee district to be included on the primary election ballot in May. Candidates may start collecting the signatures on February 18, with petitions due to be filed with the Allegheny County Division of Elections by March 11.