By Charlie Deitch
Pittsburgh Current Editor
When first-time political candidate Bethany Hallam decided a few months ago to take on a 20-year incumbent for Allegheny County Council, she jumped into the race with two things — a great personal story and the desire to serve all county residents.
She wrote a new chapter in that story Tuesday night when she beat incumbent John Defazio for the at-large county council seat he’s held since the council was formed 20 years ago. Hallam got a call from Defazio’s campaign around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday night, conceding the race.
Hallam, who attacked the race with an energy and excitement that was unmatched by her opponent, says even going into election day, she wasn’t so sure a win was coming.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” Hallam said after her victory speech Tuesday night. “I knew was that I did absolutely everything in my power to win. But until I walked in here tonight, it wasn’t real.
“I had no idea how big Allegheny County was until I went out and knocked on doors in every corner of it. I wanted to meet voters from the entire county because I will serve every resident of Allegheny County.
Hallam is just the latest in a line of candidates who have won victories over entrenched incumbents. One constant in all of these races has been the incumbent’s unwillingness to meet their opponents in face-to-face debates, relying instead on the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and their political relationships.
“My goal all along was to return the voice of the people to county government,” Hallam said. “They just want to be heard.”
Hallam entered the race by opening up about her past troubles with severe drug addiction and time spent in the Allegheny County Jail. Issues she talked about earlier this year during the Pittsburgh Current Podcast.
Check out pittsburghcurrent.com Wednesday for more election coverage.