Chelsa Wagner

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Chelsa Wagner
Allegheny County Controller
Assumed office
January 2, 2012
Preceded byMark Flaherty
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 22nd district
In office
January 2, 2007[1] – January 2, 2012
Preceded byMichael Diven
Succeeded byMartin Schmotzer
Personal details
Born (1977-07-24) July 24, 1977 (age 43)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Khari Mosley
RelativesJack Wagner (uncle)
EducationUniversity of Chicago (BA)
University of Pittsburgh (JD)

Chelsa L. Wagner (born July 24, 1977) is an American politician serving as Allegheny County Controller. She previously served as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 22nd District which includes the South Side and part of the North Side of the city of Pittsburgh, and parts of the suburbs of Baldwin, Whitehall and Castle Shannon. She stepped down from the House when she was elected Allegheny County Controller.

Wagner was first elected to the House in 2006 with over 55% of the vote. She defeated incumbent Michael Diven, who had switched to the Republican Party earlier that year.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Pittsburgh, Wagner is a member of a prominent political family in Pittsburgh. Her father Pete was Democratic Chairman of the city's 19th Ward for 30 years, and her uncle Jack Wagner served as the state's Auditor General. Wagner graduated from Seton-La Salle Catholic High School in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and then the University of Chicago, where she played on the women's basketball team. Wagner earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.


After graduating from law school, Wagner joined a law firm in Pittsburgh, specializing in medical malpractice cases.

Pennsylvania State Representative[edit]

Wagner was first elected to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 22nd Legislative District in 2006 with over 55% of the vote.[4] Her election marked the first time ever that a woman was elected to a full term in the State House representing the City of Pittsburgh.[5] In 2009, Wagner became the first Democratic legislator in Pennsylvania history to give birth while in office, and returned to Harrisburg with her 10-day-old son, Thaddeus, to attend to a months-long state budget impasse.[6][7] Wagner served on the Judiciary, Education, Transportation and Urban Affairs committees.[8] She served three terms, stepping down from the House when she was elected Allegheny County Controller.

Allegheny County Controller[edit]

Wagner is currently serving her second term as Allegheny County Controller. Wagner took office in 2012 as the first woman to hold the office and oversees Allegheny County's annual expenditures of over $1 billion.[9] Wagner made her office the first in Allegheny County government to provide paid family leave, an example which was followed by the County administration and the City of Pittsburgh,[10] and instituted a $15 per hour minimum wage for her employees.[11] Wagner has modernized her office's auditing functions to meet the highest professional standards and implemented technological improvements.

As Controller, she has led efforts to bring transparency and accountability to municipal authorities,[12] tax-exempt "purely public charities",[13] and water quality.[14]

She was named a Governing Magazine 2017 Women In Government Leadership honoree, joining the third cohort of twenty-five members, selected from over 100,000 women holding elected office nationally.[15]

Pittsburgh Marathon[edit]

Wagner helped resurrect the Pittsburgh Marathon from a five-year hiatus[16] to become a world-class event that also promotes health in local schools and communities.[17] She served on the board of the Pittsburgh Marathon from 2009 to 2019.[18]

Electoral history[edit]


Wagner challenged incumbent Republican State Representative Michael Diven in the 2006 General Election to serve the 22nd State House District which included parts of the South Side and North Side of the City of Pittsburgh as well as parts of the suburbs of Baldwin, Whitehall and Castle Shannon. Diven had held the seat for three terms but had recently changed his political party affiliation to Republican. Wagner won the election with 55% of the vote.


Wagner was unopposed for re-election in 2008.[19]


Wagner was unopposed for re-election in 2010.[20]


Wagner ran for Allegheny County Controller in 2011 and faced Valerie McDonald Roberts and George Matta in the Democratic Primary on May 17, 2011. She received 49% of the vote to McDonald Roberts' 28% and Matta's 23%.[21] She faced Republican Robert Howard in the General Election on November 8, 2011 and won with 61% of the vote.[22]


Wagner ran for re-election in 2015 against Mark Patrick Flaherty, who was also her predecessor in the office of Allegheny County Controller, in the May 19, 2015 Democratic Primary. Despite a contentious campaign and being outspent by a margin of 8:1 by Flaherty, who had the backing of the local Democratic Party establishment, Wagner won in a landslide victory. Wagner was unopposed in the General Election on November 3, 2015.[23]


Wagner was unopposed in the Democratic Primary for re-election on May 21, 2019, and was overwhelmingly re-elected in the General Election on November 6, 2019 receiving over 63% of the vote against Republican Brooke Nadonley,[24] an increase over her previous vote share of 61% in 2011.

Personal life[edit]

Wagner and her husband, Khari Mosley, reside with their two boys in the North Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Detroit hotel incident[edit]

On March 6, 2019, at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, Wagner was arrested and detained by the Detroit police as a result of the hotel staff's denying her husband, Khari Mosley, access to their hotel room.[25][26][27] On March 8, 2019, the Detroit police issued a warrant to file assault and battery charges against Wagner.[28] Wagner faced a felony count of resisting and obstructing police. Her husband, Mosley, faced a misdemeanor for disturbing the peace.[29][30] On March 19, 2019, Wagner and Mosley sent notice of their intentions to sue the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and Detroit police. The following day, on March 20, 2019, the Wayne County, Michigan Prosecutor's Office filed resisting and obstructing charges against Wagner and disturbing the peace charges against Mosley.[31] Wagner and Mosley have characterized the charges against them as retaliatory and part of a cover-up by the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and Detroit police.[32]

Mosley was acquitted of all charges on July 15, 2019 after the jury deliberated for only 45 minutes.[33] During Mosley's trial, it was revealed that Westin security had submitted a false police report and made false statements to the police, and Detroit police admitted they had proceeded on what they now know to be false information.[citation needed] Wagner and Mosley have maintained that this was a coordinated campaign of misinformation and obfuscation by the Detroit police and the Westin Cadillac Hotel, citing deleted or missing security footage and other evidence that was subject to a litigation hold.[citation needed]

On November 20, 2019, Wagner was also acquitted of the disturbing the peace charges and a mistrial was declared on the resisting and obstructing charge when the jury could not come to a unanimous decision. The jury was split with 9 jurors favoring acquittal and only 3 considering conviction.[34]

On December 20, 2019, prosecutors in Wayne County said they'd retry Wagner on the felony count of assaulting, resisting and obstructing a police officer. Barring a plea deal, Wagner's new trial is set for April 20, 2020.[35]


  1. ^ "SESSION OF 2007 191ST OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY No. 1" (PDF). LEGISLATIVE JOURNAL. Pennsylvania House of Representatives. 2007-01-02. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  2. ^ "2006 General Election - Representative in the General Assembly". Commonwealth of PA - Elections Information. Pennsylvania Department of State. 2004. Archived from the original on 2008-11-27. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  3. ^ Barnes, Tom (2006-08-20). "Democrats set sights on State House". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. PG Publishing Co., Inc.
  4. ^ "Pennsylvania Elections - County Results". Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  5. ^ Herring, An-Li. "Former Lawmakers Reflect On 'Frat Boy' Culture In Harrisburg". Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  6. ^ Maria (2009-06-15). "2 Political Junkies: Rep. Wagner Gives Birth: 1st sitting PA legislator in almost 25 years to give birth". 2 Political Junkies. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  7. ^ Retrieved 2019-09-19. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Chelsa Wagner". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  9. ^ "New county controller Chelsa Wagner from a line of public servants |". Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  10. ^ Murray, Ashley. "City, county leading the region, country with paid parental leave for municipal employees". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  11. ^ "A higher wage lifts workers and the economy". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  12. ^ Retrieved 2019-09-27. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ "Property Tax Exemptions" (PDF).
  14. ^ Retrieved 2019-09-27. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "Women in Government". Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  16. ^ "Dick's agrees to sponsor marathon until 2021". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
  17. ^ Retrieved 2019-10-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ Retrieved 2019-10-04. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Incumbent Chelsa Wagner wins big in Allegheny County controller's race". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  24. ^ "Election Night Reporting". Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  25. ^ FIRST ON 4: Video shows hotel hallway confrontation leading up to arrest of Allegheny County Controller
  26. ^ [1]"Detroit police expected to file charges against Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner"
  27. ^ [2]"Woman says Detroit cops assaulted her; Craig says she was at fault"
  28. ^ [3]"Detroit Police Issue Warrant To File Assault, Battery Charges Against Allegheny Co. Controller Chelsa Wagner"
  29. ^ [4] Pittsburgh-area official, husband charged in scuffle with Detroit police
  30. ^ [5]"Mosley is charged with disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor."
  31. ^ [6]"Detroit-area authorities charge Chelsa Wagner and husband over hotel incident"
  32. ^ "'This Is A Story Of Retaliation:' Chelsa Wagner, Husband Due Back In Detroit Court". 2019-07-08. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  33. ^ "Tony Norman: Illmatic in Detroit (Khari and Chelsa's true hip-hop adventure)". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  34. ^ "Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner Found Not Guilty On Misdemeanor, No Decision On Felony Charge". 2019-11-20. Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  35. ^ [7]"Routh, Julian. Chelsa Wagner to stand trial again in Detroit Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"

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