Williams goes after Onorato — but “mixed up the facts”

State Senator Anthony Williams says Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato’s actions don’t back his rhetoric, when it comes to job creation.

Onorato, the Democratic front-runner, has made his track record of growing education, research and health care jobs in Pittsburgh a central platform of his campaign. As the only other Democrat airing statewide television commercials, Williams could be viewed as Onorato’s strongest challenger.

Speaking at a Cumberland County business incubation center, Williams said Onorato’s message overstates his track record.

But Williams may have slipped up: as one example, Williams cited a visit to the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative. He says the group’s deputy director, Ann Gleeson, expressed frustration that her organization didn’t receive any county funding.

Gleeson didn’t return my calls for comment, but told Capitolwire Williams “mixed up the facts,” and that the organization isn’t eligible for county funds. On top of that, Gleeson added, “I am not in business, that is a different field, but the county and state have done a great job with biosciences here, they have done a lot.”

Williams’ spokeswoman, Nia Ngina Meeks, said Williams’ comments to reporters were based on the conversation he had with Gleeson, and Williams told Capitolwire, “I know what she said and she said it.”

The Onorato camp responded to Williams’ criticism via email. Spokesman Brian Herman wrote, “unlike his critics who do not have executive experience, Dan Onorato has run the second-largest county in Pennsylvania, working to attract billions in economic development for the region, balancing a budget each year without raising property taxes and reforming government to save taxpayers millions of dollars.  And, at a time of national recession, Allegheny County’s unemployment rate is below the state’s and the nation’s.”

Williams says he’ll continue to draw contrasts between his record and Onorato’s in the final weeks before the primary. He declined to say whether those contrasts will come in the form of negative campaign ads.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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