PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- August 1st was the deadline for third-party and independent candidates to file petitions to get their names on the November ballot.
This year more have filed than ever, including four for one Pittsburgh city council office.
"We have independent candidates every year but normally one or two in a particular race. I don't remember seeing four," David Voye, Allegheny County elections director, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday.
Voye has worked in that department for 31 years, and, in a first, this year incumbent City Councilman Ricky Burgess, who won the Democratic primary with 39% of the vote, has four candidates running against him in November: Barbara Daniels, DeNeice Welch, Randall Taylor, and Prince Matthews.
Democrat Bobby Wilson, who defeated incumbent Councilwoman Darlene Harris in May, has three opponents: Quincey Swatson, Chris Rosselot, and Malcolm Jarrett.
Incumbent Democratic council president Bruce Kraus has an opponent in independent Jacob Nixon.
Independents also filed for municipal and school offices, including Bell Acres council, Carlynton school board, Castle Shannon council, Collier commission, Glassport council, McKeesport mayor, Osborne council, Sewickley council, Swissvale council, Upper St. Clair school board, and Woodland Hills school board.
There's only one independent running county-wide.
Public defender Lisa Middleman filed her petition to challenge Allegheny County's district attorney.
In a sign that D.A. Stephen Zappala, the Democrat, may have a race on his hands this fall, the independent, Lisa Middleman, needed 3,750 signatures to get on the ballot.
She filed 11,000.
That's probably more than enough signatures to withstand scrutiny, but watch for names to be checked out carefully.
Incumbents and others who want to challenge the petitions of independents have until next Tuesday to do so.
While independents don't have a great history of success in Pennsylvania, what makes them important is that too often in this state incumbents go unchallenged in the fall.
In many local and county races, Republicans don't run against Democrats, and Democrats don't run against Republicans.
Without independents running, voters are often left with no choices at all.
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