State Representative Chelsa Wagner (D-Brookline), who was sworn in as Allegheny County Controller Jan. 2, will serve concurrently in both offices until the needs of her legislative constituents are met by House leadership, collecting only her legislative salary.
“The only way to describe the hand dealt to my constituents by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission is a raw deal,” Wagner said. “We have single neighborhoods split into three legislative districts, which is causing great concern and confusion. When citizens don’t know where to turn to access their public officials, that’s disenfranchisement. I won’t walk away from them until they’ve been prepared for these changes.”
Wagner’s 22nd legislative district, consisting of City of Pittsburgh neighborhoods and South Hills suburban communities, is slated to be split into five different districts under the plan approved by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Wagner has insisted that before she leaves office House leadership must guarantee that her Constituent Service Offices remain operational during the transition, and that her constituents receive clear communication on the result of reapportionment and whom to contact for assistance.
"If I resign before the reapportionment is finalized, the residents of Brookline, Beechview, Mt. Washington, Castle Shannon, Whitehall and other communities will lose a resource to which all Pennsylvanians are entitled. For this to happen before I am fully assured that they will accommodated is untenable to me,” Wagner said.
“I would never claim that serving in two offices at once is an ideal situation,” Wagner said. “But neither is a constituent seeking help with an unemployment claim or heating assistance arriving to a locked door and a closed sign with no notification of where else to turn.”
Wagner’s Constituent Service offices on Brookline Blvd. and in the Caste Village Shoppes remain open with regular hours.
“We have maintained very active district offices that constituents turn to on a wide variety of issues. I’m not going to stand for my constituents being locked out,” Wagner said.
She will be monitoring state House affairs remotely during this transition period while fulfilling her duties as Allegheny County’s new Controller.
“Taking over as County Controller is a huge undertaking, and I am absolutely dedicated to fulfilling those duties for the taxpayers of Allegheny County,” Wagner said. “However, my state House constituents also elected me and I don’t take my responsibility to them lightly. I’m going to make sure they’re taken care of.”
Concurrent service in two offices is provided for in state law and has occurred several times in recent years. The law allows for officials serving concurrently to collect only one public salary. Wagner will remain on the state payroll and forgo her county salary until resigning from the House.
“I was hopeful that this situation would be resolved long before now, and with some simple assurances from House leadership it would be,” Wagner said. “But I won’t leave my constituents with no representation and without the services they depend on.”