The outcome of Pittsburgh’s mayoral election last night was not a surprise. Residents elected Democrat Bill Peduto as the city’s next mayor. Josh Wander, the Republican candidate, who received 5,012 votes, some say, didn’t stand a chance. But could Josh Wander have won if he made a genuine effort to stick around, didn’t sell his Squirrel Hill house and didn’t leave to Israel for a consulting job? Most people would say no.
At the end of the day, the last time Pittsburgh had a Republican mayor was in 1933 and he served for only one year.
His name was John S. Herron. To this day, he holds the distinction of having been the last GOP mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. Herron didn’t even come to power through a popular vote. As president of City Council, he assumed the mayor’s seat on March 31, 1933, to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Charles H. Kline, the last Republican Pittsburghers actually elected. Mayor Kline turned out to be a crook. He was forced to resign by City Council after being convicted of malfeasance in connection with irregularities in the purchase of municipal supplies. That’s how John S. Herron became Pittsburgh’s mayor.
Herron’s administration was remarkable for … being uneventful. The most notable event that happened during his times was the repeal of “Sunday Blue Laws,” which banned sports for 24 hours for the observance of a day of worship or rest. Given how sports are worshipped in Pittsburgh and are part of the weekend routine, those Blue Laws clearly didn’t make sense.
John S. Herron lost the mayoral race in November 1933 to William N. McNair, who became the first Democrat to win the mayoral seat since 1905. Approximately 172,000 people cast their ballots in the election, McNair defeated Herron by 23,419 votes (McNair received 83,278; Herron had 59,859).
After leaving the mayor’s office, John S. Herron served as an Allegheny County commissioner until his death in 1947.