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City unions, Ferlo back Jack

Published by James O'Toole on .

A handful of politically influential city workers' unions joined state Sen. and onetime mayoral candidate Jim Ferlo Wednesday in endorsing Jack Wagner for the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Their decision, announced in a late morning press conference at the City-County Building, is a significant boost for Mr. Wagner's late-breaking mayoral campaign as the Democratic field sorts itself out less than two months before the May 21 primary.  Mr. Wagner stood with the leaders of the Pittsburgh Firefighters, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Operating Engineers Local 66 and Teamsters Local 249.

Mr. Ferlo, who had considered seeking the Democratic nomination himself, recalled his past working with Mr. Wagner on city council and in state government as he said, "We need a hands on manager of the public trust and someone who has the skills to leverage limited resources, hold out workforce and everyone involved in city government, to a high standard of performance and accountability ... basically Grant Street needs a new sheriff in town.''

Mr. Ferlo, a member of the board of the URA, was also an ally of the old sheriff, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, as were some of the union officials who had been poised to back the incumbent before his surprise decision not to seek re-election. Before that development, the bulk of union support had appeared ready to divide between Mr. Ravenstahl and Councilman Bill Peduto, who started the year with the best funded and organized campaign among the remaining Democratic contenders. The development is a particular challenge for another contender, city Controller Michael Lamb, who shares his political base in the city's southern neighborhoods. Before the press conference, Mr. Ferlo said he was an admirer of Mr Lamb and had considered supporting the controller, but opted for Mr. Wagner because he viewed him as the more electable candidate.

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