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Full Biography for Dan "Onorato" Onorato
A life-long Pennsylvanian, Dan Onorato was raised in a working class neighborhood on Pittsburgh's North Side. Dan's father worked as a mechanic at the Allis-Chalmers factory, and his mother worked at a local elementary school. Dan was raised to believe that family and faith are always most important, and that when times are tough, everyone must pitch in.
Dan's parents didn't go to college, but they dreamed that their children could. Working during the summer in building maintenance and retail, Dan paid his way through Penn State and graduated with a degree in accounting. He then worked as a Certified Public Accountant before continuing his education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he earned a law degree and met his future wife, Shelly.
After working several years in the private sector, Dan was inspired to run for public office because he felt that his hometown, Pittsburgh, was falling behind. Plants were shutting down, hardworking folks were losing their jobs and politicians were out of touch.
So in 1991, Dan waged an improbable campaign for City Council against an entrenched politician. It was a race that virtually nobody thought Dan could win. After all, Dan wasn't from a political family and didn't have much money. But he had an unmatched work ethic and new, fresh ideas. He knocked on doors day and night, listened to voters and shared his plans for bringing the city back. Dan shocked the political establishment by winning the City Council seat, and he easily went on to win re-election in 1995.
Once in office, Dan fought hard to put more police officers on the streets, build private-public partnerships to save assets like the City Zoo and pass a tax cut to help small businesses create new jobs.
While on City Council, Dan also observed first-hand that Allegheny County could be more efficiently managed and that taxpayer dollars could be better protected. So in 1999, he successfully ran for Allegheny County Controller and spent four years as the city's watchdog against wasteful spending and fraud. Dan took on organizations that abused taxpayer money and exposed a big health care provider that gave away hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to top executives as bonuses.
In 2003, Dan again challenged the status quo, this time running for Executive of Allegheny County against an incumbent Republican. After a decisive come-from-behind victory, Dan brought a new, more fiscally responsible approach to governing Pennsylvania's second largest county (1.2 million residents). He immediately implemented smart reforms to eliminate waste and worked to transform Western Pennsylvania + once a symbol for America's declining manufacturing sector + into a hub for 21st-century jobs.
By finding innovative ways for Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh to combine services, Dan has saved the region's taxpayers millions of dollars. He took on the establishment and led the row office campaign to consolidate 10 political offices. To keep county finances in order, he reduced the county's payroll by hundreds of positions. Dan also cut property taxes twice, took action to prevent dramatic swings in property values and eliminated backdoor property tax increases. Under Dan's watch, Allegheny County is the only county in the region to hold the line on property taxes in each of the past seven years.
As County Executive, Dan has helped the private sector thrive and create thousands of good-paying jobs in innovative fields + energy, health care, finance, advanced manufacturing and higher education. He has aggressively promoted programs to help women and minority-owned businesses thrive. To help folks who lost their jobs to get back on their feet, Dan established a worker retraining program at the local community college. The program, which is offered tuition-free, has already helped hundreds of laid-off workers get 21st-century jobs.
Dan is running for Governor because Pennsylvania's families need a government that is more efficient and more responsive to their needs. As a public official, Dan has never settled for the status quo, and as Governor, Dan will bring new ideas to reform government, clean up Harrisburg, create new 21st-century jobs, strengthen our education system and invest in new energy solutions.
Dan and Shelly reside in the Brighton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh with their children Kate (17), Emily (15) and Danny (12). The family attends St. Cyril's Catholic Church.
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