Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb deflected a challenge Tuesday from city Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, all but guaranteeing himself another four years as what he calls the “independent voice on Grant Street.”

No Republicans sought their party’s nomination, so Mr. Lamb’s victory in the Democratic primary means he’ll probably sail through the general election and into a third term next year.

Mr. Lamb said his campaign goal was to get out and talk about the work he and his staff have done. “I think that message was well received,” he said.

Allies five years ago in a successful battle to prevent former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl from privatizing county parking garages and meters, Mr. Lamb and Ms. Rudiak more recently parted ways on such issues as a vision for the controller’s office and the type of relationship the controller should have with current Mayor Bill Peduto.

Mr. Lamb, 52, of Mount Washington, has been an irritant to Mr. Peduto, as he was to Mr. Ravenstahl, complaining, for example, about a lack of payments in lieu of taxes from the city’s big nonprofits.

Ms. Rudiak, 35, of Carrick, a longtime ally of Mr. Peduto who entered the controller’s race with the mayor’s endorsement, said the fiscal watchdog ought to be collaborative at times and a partner in efforts to shore up the city’s finances.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team and my campaign staff and the volunteers. I couldn’t be prouder of the issues that we raised,” Ms. Rudiak said, adding that she and her group developed sound policy ideas that she hopes Mr. Lamb implements.

Ms. Rudiak, who represents southern neighborhoods on city council, chairs the body’s Committee on Fiance and Law. Among other policy proposals, she called for work-life balance initiatives for city employees and better monitoring of legal claims and the city’s use of minority- and women-owned businesses.

While Ms. Rudiak had the mayor’s support, Mr. Lamb won the Democratic Committee’s endorsement. The party support was a factor, Ms. Rudiak said, adding that she also faced an uphill battle because of Mr. Lamb’s political seniority and membership in a long politically prominent family.

Noting that he isn’t on Mr. Peduto’s “team,” Mr. Lamb had questioned Ms. Rudiak’s ability to be the independent controller taxpayers deserve. Tuesday night, Mr. Lamb said he wants to be independent, but not an obstructionist.

“People want an objective look at what’s going on,” he said. “I think that’s what I have provided.”

The race bore similarities to the race for Allegheny County controller, in which incumbent Chelsa Wagner, a critic of county Executive Rich Fitzgerald, was challenged by Mark Patrick Flaherty, endorsed by Mr. Fitzgerald.

Mr. Lamb and Ms. Rudiak both described themselves champions of transparency and modernization, though Ms. Rudiak said her opponent had not done enough on either front. Mr. Lamb called himself an advocate of efficiency, but Ms. Rudiak said he had failed to be a true standard-bearer on pension reform and other issues crucial to the city.

SOURCE: Post-Gazette