Q&A with Anita Prizio, Allegheny County Councilor District 3

Anita Prizio

County Council work much be approached to the lens of equity and justice. Clean water and air are a human right. Transgender rights are human rights. Affordable housing is a human right. We must all work together and leave our silos if we truly want to see change in Allegheny County.

This is the ninth post of our election season series ‘Political Q&A’ with progressive candidates throughout Pennsylvania. Candidates can be anywhere in Pennsylvania running for any level of office. Please note that these are not necessarily endorsements, more of an opportunity for candidates to connect with the LGBTQ community, progressives neighbors, and others with an interest in Western Pennsylvania. If your candidate would like to participate, please contact us pghlesbian at gmail dot com.

Anita Prizio’s name is frequently part of the conversation in progressive circles around County matters, especially with regard to environmental issues. She is the first candidate for County Council (reelection) to respond to this year’s Q&A. Check out the map to see if you live in District 3 and learn more about Anita below.

Your Name: Anita Prizio
Your Pronouns: she/her
The Office You Seek: Allegheny County Council, District 3

How do you describe your identity? Cisgender female

Please tell us about an underappreciated or little known asset in your district

Etna took a vacant lot and transformed it into an EcoPark, removed the asphalt, brought in compost to start soil remediation, installed a rain garden, and planted trees. They plan to install a permeable paver accessible pathway, benches, picnic table, a raised herb garden and even a free little pantry. This is a model that can be replicated.

Tell us about the first LGBTQ person you met and what impact they had on your life?

My freshman college roommate is gay. We attended Bucknell University in the eighties, a conservative university in central PA. She did not come out during college, but once she graduated, she did and now, she and her partner are thriving. I reflect on the pain she suffered during college and what a better place she is in now. I have not been back to my alma mater recently, but I am hoping things have changed.

Please tell me about your familiarity with the LGBTQ community in your district and the region.

My familiarity with the LGBTQ community in my district and region is through individuals I work with in progressive circles like Pittsburgh DSA, Planned Parenthood, and other organizations. The use of pronouns has also been helpful for me.

Based on this, what do you understand to be our top LGBTQ concerns and priorities for County Council?

Last year, County Council unanimously expanded the County’s nondiscrimination ordinance to protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals seeking medical treatments. I am happy to report we banned conversion therapy in Allegheny County, disappointed that not all my colleagues signed on. Councilmember Hallam introduced a nonbinding motion opposing legislation limiting transgender athletes from participation in youth and collegiate sports. Unfortunately, this failed.

Please tell us what authority and power the Allegheny County Council has? 

We can adopt, amend, and repeal ordinances, levy taxes, fees, and service charges, make, confirm, or reject appointments to boards authorities and agencies. Our most important role is our budgetary role; to annually adopt operating and capital budgets. We have the opportunity for the budget to reflect our priorities.

One of your primary issues in 2017 was governmental transparency. What have you accomplished in that regard? After serving a term, what do you understand to be the barriers to transparency?

In 2017, I was very concerned with the lack of transparency regarding to oil and gas leases. Fracktracker brought to my attention that since 2010, these leases were not being recorded on the County website. I proposed a stand-alone oil and gas registry, although I was not successful in creating a registry, the county did go back to 2010 and backfill the real estate web site with existing oil and gas leases and require the registration of any new oil and gas leases. I have just introduced a motion to create a sustainability commission. I am hopeful this will increase the transparency of the County’s efforts around sustainability. By holding public meetings and including community members, I see this as a step forward in bringing transparent to County government.

How does intersectionality inform your work?

County Council work much be approached to the lens of equity and justice. Clean water and air are a human right. Transgender rights are human rights. Affordable housing is a human right. We must all work together and leave our silos if we truly want to see change in Allegheny County.

What specific authority does the County have in regard to clean water and franking? 

We can definitely ban fracking in the parks. ACHD’s water pollution control division inspects all sewage treatment plants in Allegheny County. Each plant receives a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit from the state, which allows plants to discharge treated wastewater into the rivers and large streams, creeks, and tributaries. I wish we had a commission like the Delaware River Basin Commission who voted to ban fracking in the Delaware River Watershed. Why isn’t our water in Allegheny County protected, don’t we deserve clean water too?

Allegheny County extended domestic partner benefits to some employees, then rescinded them two years later when marriage equality became the law of the land. This issue impacts a few employees, but the impact is deep. “Just get married” is not a suitable HR policy. And the discrepancy in benefits blocks mergers with City offices that involve jobs because City employees have the benefits. Would you be willing to revisit this decision and work to offer family benefits to as many County employees as possible? 

I would revisit this issue and I’m hoping that the current paid sick leave ordinance, now in front of the health department, continues to incorporate “domestic partner” language, as agreed upon by the Allegheny County Council Committee of Health and Human Services. Unfortunately, when the ordinance comes back for final approval from County Council, we are only permitted to vote it up or down.

With regard to criminal justice I believe an area that could be addressed quickly is for the County to create a civilian position to complete background checks for all participating police departments (or public safety) in the County. That would be one person with well-honed skills, versus a municipal clerk doing it once a year. This person would be able to cross-check applicants, reduce individuals from jumping around departments, and prevent bad cops from joining any of the forces. Perhaps with DOJ funding to launch this, municipalities could pay a fee to subsidize the service for their departments. Ideally, the Commonwealth should do this, but the County has enough scope to make it feasible especially if you include all first responders. How would you build on ideas like this to reform the police hiring process? 

I agree completely, had we had this in place, Antwon Rose, would be still with us. East Pittsburgh was criminally negligent for neglecting to do a proper background check on Michael Rosfeld. We need to build ideas like this into our current discussion regarding the Independent Civilian Police Review Board.

How do competitive primary elections benefit the residents of Allegheny County? 

I believe this is so important, an opportunity to discuss issues, so each party can galvanize around their best choice in the general election. In some districts in Allegheny County, the election is decided at the primary level.

Tell me about your endorsements and supporters.

Although early in the cycle and unopposed in the primary, I have secured the endorsement from DSA, Sunrise, Stonewall Democrats and WTF! And most important, my two progressive allies on Council, Liv Bennett and Bethany Hallam.

Where can readers find your campaign on social media? How can they donate to your campaign?

Please check out anitaprizio.org

Thank you, Anita.

Other Q&A’s in this election cycle series. You can read previous cycle Q&A’s here.

  1. Q&A With Bill Peduto, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh
  2. Q&A With Ed Gainey, Candidate for Mayor City of Pittsburgh
  3. Q&A With Raymond Robinson, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge 05-02-42
  4. Q&A with Bethani Cameron, Candidate for City Council District 4
  5. Q&A with Hilary Wheatley Taylor, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge for District 05-2-19
  6. Q&A with Connor Mulvaney, Candidate for City Council District 4
  7. Q&A with Judge Derwin Rushing, Candidate for Magisterial District Judge 5-2-40
  8. Q&A with Alyssa Cowan, Candidate for Court of Common Pleas Judge
  9. Q&A with Anita Prizio, Allegheny County Councilor District 3


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