Election Guide for Candidates Running for Pa. State House’s 19th District in the May 2022 Primary

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What’s at stake: Long owned by Jake Wheatley, 19th is traditionally a majority-black neighborhood that stretches from Pittsburgh’s North Side through downtown and Hazelwood, buying up real estate in Allentown and Beltzhoover along the way. Wheatley’s decision to join Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey’s administration opened up a special election in April. Now, two candidates in that race are set for a rematch in the Democratic primary for a full two-year term in the 19th — one of only two seats in Allegheny County certain to have a black representative.

Note: Campaign finance fundraising total includes contributions raised in 2021 and 2022. Data updated 4/18/22.

Democrats

Aerion Abney

Abney challenged Wheatley for the 19th District seat three times without success, but he finally took a break when Wheatley resigned: his name was removed from an empty margarine tub when Democratic Party leaders split over the opportunity to choose him or Glenn Grayson Sr. as their candidate for the April 5 special election. As the only candidate on the ballot, Abney was victorious and will hold the seat until the end of the year. But he and Grayson are facing off for a full two-year term that begins next year. Prior to his special election win, the 33-year-old Manchester resident worked for the voting rights group All Voting Is Local.

To party: Democrat
Live: Pennsylvania Special Projects Director, All Voting is Local (since 2018)
Education: University of Pittsburgh (MSW)
Connections: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major Approvals: Allegheny County Democratic Committee
Fundraising Total: $45,730
Cash: $18,342
To read: “Democrats choose a candidate to replace Wheatley – with the finest of margarines” (Chris Potter, WESA)

Glenn Grayson Sr.

Until he seeks the District 19 seat this year, running for office might be the only public role Grayson hasn’t had. played in his Hill District community. A pastor at Wesley Center AME Zion Church, he has long been involved in community efforts, including anti-violence initiatives after losing a son in a random act of gun violence. Grayson also served on the board of the Sports & Exhibition Authority, which owns the district’s professional sports facilities.

To party: Democrat
Live:
Pastor, Wesley Center AME Zion Church (1996 – present)
President/Founder, The Center that CARES
Education: Livingstone College (BS); Hood Theological Seminary (MDD)
Connections: n / A
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Fundraising Total: $11,781
Cash: $6,446
To read: “Democrats choose a candidate to replace Wheatley – with the finest of margarines” (Chris Potter, WESA)

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