Friday, October 16, 2009
Independent mayoral candidate Franco Dok Harris says for the last four years he has laid his head at night in Pittsburgh and has been paying taxes in Pittsburgh so he is a Pittsburgher. At a news conference in his Oakland campaign office Harris handed out copies of leases signed by him dating back to 2005 showing he lived in the city since returning from Washington DC to go to business grad school at CMU and law school at Pitt. The move comes after allegations surfaced that Harris has not been a resident of Pittsburgh for three years as the city’s charter requires for all mayoral candidates. Harris blamed the rumors on one or both of his opponents and questioned why the allegations surfaced just days before the first mayoral debate rather than when he filed his petitions. He says had they been made at that time, “Most likely they would have been laughed out of court." Harris did admit that he only changed his voter registration from his parents address in Sewickley to his current address in Pittsburgh in march of this year. He also admitted he voted in that district while residing and paying taxes in Pittsburgh. Harris says he did not change the address on his voter registration while he was in grad school, “partially out of laziness and partially because I wanted to continue to vote in that district.” He says he now knows that is against the rules. He says he wanted to vote against Melissa Hart in her bid for reelection to congress. When asked if he thought he had committed voter fraud he answered, “That’s not voting fraud. That’s a very, very powerful statement to use the word fraud. A lot of people vote in districts where they have a parent’s address. I made a mistake, absolutely. Should I have registered in every place I lived in? Sure. But a lot of people move and keep old registrations.”
Harris is running as an independent for mayor against fellow independent Kevin Acklin and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl who is on the ballot as both a republican and a Democrat.