Erie Chamber Blog
Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Lydia Lathe
Erie County Council, District 6

Current Employer
USCRI Erie

About Lydia
Lydia Laythe is a social worker, advocate, local elected leader, and step-mom. She is trained in trauma treatment, has worked with refugees, immigrants, children and adolescents who experienced trauma, and previously incarcerated men. Lydia was raised in Edinboro and has lived and worked in the area for over two decades. Lydia is currently serving on Washington Township Council, where she has advocated for increased governmental transparency and accountability, as well as Community Benefits Agreements, renewable energy development, municipal recycling, and community outreach and engagement.


Why did you want to run for Erie County Council?


There is no one like me in local municipal government. Local government needs fresh perspectives and new ideas to be the strongest, healthiest, most innovative, creative, and sustainable government it can be. I know I can bring these qualities to County and could benefit so many more people at a County level.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

County prison reform, community benefits agreements, and trauma-informed perspectives on all policies.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I already advocate for these initiatives in my personal and professional life, serving at a County level would enable me to do so in my political life. I work closely with early childhood educators and early childhood literacy experts on several initiatives to increase literacy in Erie. I've supported Erie's efforts to bring a Community College to our area for several years now - having worked with Ron DiNicola when he ran for Congress a few years back. I will continue to build relationships with key stakeholders, most importantly the families and young people most affected by these issues, and ensure that their voices be heard on Council and their strengths and needs not be forgotten in the decision-making process.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

The first step is to acknowledge that a gap exists and that it's worthy of our attention. Too often elected leaders don't give attention to issues that don't affect them personally. That's never been my approach. I already participate in many coalitions around various issues - like human trafficking and domestic violence. I know the power of building relationships across the County and would continue to support and promote collaboration and creative problem-solving in every area of County government - including public health.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

Community Benefits Agreements are one of many ways to protect and intentionally support small businesses in our community. CBA's guarantee that when outside groups come into our community they don't crush the local businesses in the process. CBA's are a safeguard against greed, corruption, or false promises. Finding ways to promote economic growth that supports our community at its core is the heart of Community Benefits Agreements and that's why I'm so excited to bring these to County Council.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

No response provided.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but Community Benefits Agreements could address this concern as well! CBA's could be worded for specific projects that ensure multi-billion-dollar developments pay their fair share towards specific community initiatives - like infrastructure or historic preservation. I will always stand by the belief that those with more money have a greater responsibility to contribute to the community they benefit from occupying. While tools like Opportunity Zones sound positive - and in some instances can work out - they often perpetuate gentrification, economic and social inequality, and the displacement and disenfranchisement of entire groups of people. If we use Opportunity Zones to encourage development, they must be paired with Community Benefits Agreements that protect our community from these dangerous pitfalls. We can want growth and development but also expect better from developers. Our community is worth so much more than some elected officials seem to think.

 

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Ryan D. McGregor
North East Borough Council

Current Employer
Logistics Plus

About Ryan
Ryan was born and raised just outside of Pittsburgh. Having graduated from Montour High School in 2005, Ryan furthered his education at Slippery Rock University. There, he earned a B.A. Political Science and a minor in Russian, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2009. After University, Ryan went to work in the district office of a United States Congressman. In this role, Ryan worked hand-in-hand with elected leaders from more than 100 municipal governments on a variety of local issues including stormwater management, business revitalization, capital project funding, and more. Ryan knows how to work within all levels of government to get results. ​

Though they could have chosen anywhere to start their new family, Ryan and his wife, Kacie chose North East Borough because of the wonderful neighborhoods (and neighbors!), vibrant business community, and engaging community events. Currently, Ryan works as the Head of Business Intelligence for an international logistics company finding actionable insights into data. Because you cannot fix what you cannot measure, Ryan will bring years of high-level analytics towards improving Borough Government. ​

As a Borough Councilman, Ryan will work to make our local government as open and accessible as possible, including improving access to community meetings and Borough records. Ryan will also look for new ways to encourage entrepreneurship in the business community and expand resources/programs in our parks. Ryan, Kacie, and their adorable daughter love living in North East and are very active members of Park United Methodist Church.


Why did you want to run for North East Borough Council?


To help inspire a new direction and vision for my community.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Expanded community recreation, creating a robust business environment for entrepreneurs, developing actionable data to improve community services.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

In as much as a borough councilman can be involved in such matters, I would strongly support families making the decisions that best align with their needs and goals. I would openly encourage that students do as much of their education as they can in Erie County, rather than anywhere else. By providing an excellent education from Pre-K to College in Erie County, the more likely we are to develop a vast array of strong business leaders who want to live and grow here too.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

Having worked in the health care industry, I saw first hand the net benefit that public/private partnerships can create. Government services can be bettered in performance and cost by leaning on the vast institutional wealth of many private sector businesses. As a councilman, I would seek any and all opportunities to address public health deficiencies through these targeted partnerships.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

Over the course of many years, Erie County has been on a downward trajectory in both population and jobs, the past year has only exacerbated these problems. When existing businesses are looking to expand into new markets, often the quality of the workforce and cost of living are two major factors in their decisions. As a Borough Councilman, I will seek to promote excellence in our Erie County schools, a government that seeks to meet the needs of its business community and establishing more transparency with government spending. For too long, county and municipal governments have repeated schemes and programs that have not worked, while simultaneously squeezing the business community for more in taxes. Erie County is competing against and losing to, pro-growth policies from across the nation, it is time that we try a new approach.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

I would prioritize infrastructure and capital projects above all else. In North East, I believe that much more needs to be done to increase the livability of the community. While there are many great services currently, suburban communities need to give residents and potential residents more reasons to want to live in their town. With more and more workers being able to work remotely, towns that foster deep and meaningful connections through community events will be at an advantage. In an ideal world, I would love to see the re-establishment of the Street Cars (or light rail) that once connected North East to Erie.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

While North East is too small (as determined by current law), I would like for our town to implement a City Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ) program. A program like this would keep North East money invested in North East and allow the government to more flexibility to address issues of blight. Short of that, I would be very open to any incentive or government tool that we can provide to grow our business community.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: James Lindstrom
Millcreek Township Supervisor

Current Employer
Local TV Station

About Ryan
I’ve lived in Millcreek Township for 24 years. I’m a graduate of McDowell High School (2009) and Gannon University (2013, Communication Arts). I currently work at a local tv station. I have volunteered with the youth in our community at places like the Erie Zoo. I enjoy being involved with the community. I’ve worked the polls on election day.


Why did you want to run for Millcreek Township Supervisor?


I want to serve the Millcreek community. We are at a critical state where economic growth is essential. I want to see Millcreek Township lead the way locally.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Economic growth, transparency, and listening to the taxpayers.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I do believe it is important for students to be prepared for the workforce. I believe it is important for students to know their options prior to graduating from high school. We are lucky to have many options in this region. I believe Millcreek’s partnership with Vo-Tech is one helpful resource for some students. A four-year college program isn’t for everyone. The only concern I have with the community college is how it will be funded in five or 10 years. Access to various training programs, trade programs, and various degree programs is essential. My hope is this can be addressed at the K-12 level. A Community College is a fine option for some, as long as we don't raise taxes on struggling residents to fund the project. Having well-trained individuals graduating from these various programs is in the best interest of our region. We also need to work on keeping students in this area after they graduate.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

This year has taught us the value of having access to healthcare. I believe there is a lot of work that needs to be done in this area at various levels. We have great healthcare facilities in this area. A healthcare system that prioritizes the citizens of this area is vital to public health.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

I believe the best thing government can do for small businesses is to stay off their backs. Red tape and over-taxation will not attract businesses to Millcreek Township. The various loan programs offered at both the Township level and other levels of government are helpful during these tough times. Government can create an environment for businesses to grow, but they should be careful not to burden them. I would say keeping taxes low and providing incentives for businesses to stay in this region is a good strategy.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

I believe any funds from the government should be used to help those struggling because of the pandemic. We should try to bring as much funding as possible to help the businesses and residents of Millcreek.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I believe any incentives to attract business to Millcreek are a good thing. We have so many valuable assets in Millcreek that attract tourists, such as Presque Isle. I believe revitalizing areas like West Eighth and Peninsula Drive would be a good start. I would focus on investing in these key areas of Millcreek that are vital to the economic success of Western PA.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Kim Clear
Millcreek Township Supervisor

Current Employer(s)
Millcreek Township School District
Erie County Government (Current Erie County Council Member)

About Kim
Kim Clear has served in the Erie community for the majority of her life. Whether teaching for 17 years in the Millcreek Township School District, raising tens of thousands of dollars for local organizations, representing PSEA/MEA Union members as a liaison, owning and operating various small businesses, or working on Erie County Council, Kim has dedicated her life to serving others.

Kim has taught 8th, 11th, and 12th grade English to thousands of Millcreek families. Her time teaching included writing curriculum, securing grant funding, and leading her team. Being named WJET Golden Apple Teacher of the Year in 2014 remains one of the most monumental moments of her career as it came from the recommendation of her students. Getting to know the cares, concerns, hardships, and successes of Millcreek families over the last 17 years has given Kim a unique perspective and understanding of the needs of Millcreek's residents from Belle Valley to West Lake.

Owning and managing various small businesses with her husband and business partner has educated Kim on the fiscal responsibilities and struggles of business owners. Kim has studied, implemented, and/or created business planning, capital and investment procedures, online sales, marketing, tax law, website construction, SEO, insurance, accounting, and more. Kim believes that her experiences in the business world will enable her to create a better climate and working relationship with new or expanding businesses in Millcreek.

However, it has been Kim's time on Erie County Council that has best prepared her for the role of Millcreek Township Supervisor. While on Council, Kim has served as the Chair of Finance for two years as currently acts as the vice chair of County Council. These roles have given Kim a view of the entire County in the areas of planning, budgeting, grant & loan applications as well as distribution, elections, human services, union contracting, public safety, the health department, nonprofit partnerships, and more. Kim's relationships between Erie County Government to municipalities as well as to the state and federal governments have been established and developed, especially serving as a member of the CARES Act Task Force which organized and distributed over $24 million dollars in Erie County. In addition, Kim has worked side-by-side with Erie's lead assets and leaders at the local, state, and federal levels to maximize Erie County's assets and opportunities.

All in all, Kim's life's work has brought her to the steps of the Millcreek Township building. Her two daughters were educated in Millcreek Schools and Kim and her husband have lived in Millcreek for over 15 years. Kim seeks to serve her family, friends, former students, and strangers to face the future of Millcreek together.


Why did you want to run for Millcreek Township Supervisor?


I have chosen to run for Millcreek Township Supervisor for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, my position as an elected member of Erie County Council has given me a global view of Erie County's accomplishments and struggles when it comes to its resources, lead assets, nonprofits, populations, planning, public safety, human services, transportation, public health, infrastructure, grant funding, businesses, and industries. However, while the county continues to collectively collaborate with the municipalities, Millcreek Township has continually passed ordinances and resolutions which alienate it from the county and other municipalities. I want to use my knowledge of government and connections with local and state officials to serve the place where I have chosen to raise my family. I want to use my resources to invest in Millcreek Township so that it may realize its fullest potential. Millcreek has been complacent for too long living off of the population boom of the 1980s. The time is now to reimagine the future of Millcreek and develop its relationship with the rest of the County.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

1.) Address infrastructure, road maintenance, sewer, and public safety issues creating a well-groomed, safe place to raise a family.

2.) Establish policies and incentives that support Millcreek's lead assets and encourage new business, expansion, and national/international investment in Millcreek which will create jobs, bring families to the community, and expand the tax base.

3.) Develop green initiatives including clean energy, public transportation, green spaces, and environmental sustainability projects which remain the future of a 21st-century community.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Having been a public school teacher for 17 years as well as an outspoken advocate of the Erie County Community College, I understand first hand the role that education plays in the success of a community. Early intervention and the continuing of education both promote communities that value education. I will seek to work with state legislatures to guarantee funding for early education programs as well as workforce development funding. However, the current administration in Millcreek has not engaged in state-wide partnerships which have missed opportunities to promote workforce development in Millcreek Township. In addition, I seek to work directly with the Millcreek Township School district to build community from the bay to Belle Valley. The Millcreek Township School District is the heart of Millcreek. Working in partnership, Millcreek Township and the school district can work to offer world-class education and opportunities from ages 0-100.

How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

One of Millcreek's lead assets remains LECOM, a public health entity. I will work to advocate for the modernization of the public health infrastructure by creating a public-private partnership with LECOM to expand research, development, and innovation in the health field. The public-private partnership means more and higher-paying jobs for Millcreek residents which will result in a diverse tax base.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

The loss of 28% of small businesses in Erie County due to the pandemic has been crippling for families and the local area markets. However, according to the Economic Insights Economic Tracker, the hardest hit have been the low-income wage earners whose employment rates decreased by 18.5% since January 2020. This will directly affect the local and state income taxes accumulated. However, the financial stability of the local and state government cannot be placed on the backs of already struggling businesses nor the low-income wage earners. So the answer for local and state governments needs to be by putting people back to work which will increase tax revenue. How do we do this? State and local governments can create a city revenue optimization strategy that would look redesign fee structures. Another great investment is in the hiring of a grant writer who could apply for various infrastructure programs. These infrastructure initiatives would get more people to work, creating a higher tax base of employed citizens.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

In the fall of 2020, Chairperson of County Council Carl Anderson formed a new committee, to which he appointed me vice-chairperson, which aimed to collect information from experts in all fields to gage the economic climate of Erie County at this point in the pandemic. Not only has the committee spoken to the lead assets of the county, it has spoken with small businesses, disenfranchised groups, nonprofits, and economic experts to determine a plan for economic recovery.

Here are some of the ideas I have proposed based on the findings:

Erie County's biggest struggle is POVERTY...both rural and urban. Creating jobs will give those in poverty a sense of purpose and money to invest in the area. We need to get the jobs here and now. How?

     -Broadband (specifically laying fiber which is the broadband of the future)

     -Grant funding for University and Private sector Cooperatives; partnerships and investment. Basically, this would create grant programs for universities to partner with corporations to research, invent, and then produce technologies with the caveat that the corporation must produce the technology in Erie County, creating jobs and investment, much like what happened in Cleveland. The city of Cleveland was instrumental in assisting the Evergreen Cooperatives to secure financing to develop its ambitious network of worker-owned cooperatives. The Evergreen Cooperatives provide goods and services to local anchor institutions like hospitals and universities. )

-Grant funding for expanding (not new) businesses (this will create more jobs with businesses with a proven track record of success; this will encourage investment from local, national, and international businesses to get to the next level),

-Grant funding to pay for property tax waivers for new or expanding businesses,

-Green technologies: install electric charging stations for electric cars, Electric Biking System, County wide Green Space initiative that regionalizes and connects these spaces, County-Wide electric busing system, solar technologies,

-Blight reducing grant initiatives

-Smart city Lighting-There’s immediate cost-savings in going to LED, but the possibilities go further. Light posts become real estate to host Wi-Fi, security cameras, etc.

In essence, my ideas fall into these categories: 1.)Infrastructure: Broadband, roads, bridges -This will put people to work immediately! In addition, we need these to transport goods being made in Erie County. Erie County can be the "hub" of shipment of technology and advanced manufactured goods. 2.)Investment Grants to Collaborative Partnerships (between universities & corporations)- The corporation will sign a community benefit agreement that once the university research is completed and a project completed, the corporation will agree to produce the product in Erie County. This will bring hundreds of jobs at a time to the area. 3.)Grant funding designed to expand existing businesses which will encourage national and international reach and investment. 4.)New business Green technologies grant funding -for those that are willing to research, create, and generate green technologies.

Investments from corporations will come when we can offer broadband (fiber), green technologies, systems, and spaces, and an educated workforce. Until then, we are dead in the water.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

As I have demonstrated above, my approach to local governance relies heavily on collaborative partnerships including private-public partnerships, optimizing alternative financing with partners equaling long-term gains, investment in the existing revitalization and new infrastructure, and multi-municipal collaboration projects. Working with a partner to achieve growth puts less burden on the taxpayer and yields higher rewards. Using the benefits offered by Opportunity Zoning not only will lead to investment in the community but will also expand the tax base. With Tax Increment Financing, the future tax revenue is taken into consideration when developing projects. Both of these can be used for the long-term gain of a community. Erie has used bandaids on their economic problems for too long. The problem of poverty needs to be cured from the inside out. Long-term investment strategies are the answer to this.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Greg Brown
Erie City Council

Current Employer(s)
Red Letter Hospitality
Entrepreneur

About Greg
Greg Brown is an entrepreneurial, results-focused business leader who excels in creating and executing strategy, developing people, managing projects, acquiring, integrating, operating, transforming, and growing businesses while providing an optimal environment to foster ideation, innovation, and execution allowing for significant and sustainable top and bottom-line growth.

Why did you want to run for Erie City Council?


I want to provide an independent and knowledgeable perspective related to the city budget and related spending with the goal of fostering better budget oversight and adherence, economic development and job growth, and lowering property taxes.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

1. Independent, knowledgeable budget oversight and related collaboration to budget transparency to tax payers.
2. Economic and jobs growth.
3. Lower property taxes.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Through the businesses I own and/or am affiliated with combined with my corporate experience, I have a unique and real perspective of what capabilities and skills businesses need. Second, I understand where there is demand for skills and understand the earnings potential for qualified candidates. Third, through the above experience, I also have a good perspective of the time required to become skilled in a profession.

How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

Jobs and economic growth combined with lower property taxes will address the above.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

Budget transparency, jobs and economic growth, and lower property taxes.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

Every dollar must be accounted for and put to projects delivering a reasonable payback/ROI. We must find innovative ways to purpose funds accordingly to pay down debt and decreasing property taxes.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I'm in favor of opportunity zones and generally any program designed to responsibly increase economic activity while decreasing the tax burden on hardworking Erie residents.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Joe Schember
Mayor, City of Erie

Current Employer(s)
City of Erie

About Joe
I was born and raised in Erie by two loving parents, Joe and Helen Flatley Schember. After grade school I attended St. Mark’s Seminary to study for the priesthood. After 6 years, I left the Seminary to complete my English degree at Gannon. That’s when I met the love of my life, Rhonda Mahoney.

Rhonda and I have three children – Jaime, Joe and Jodi. We raised them in the house where I grew up. Jaime works in marketing at Google. Joe lives in Albany, NY and works for the State of New York. Jaime and Joe are very successful high achievers. Joe’s twin sister, Jodi, was born with Down syndrome and has severe Autism. She has made us better human beings and taught me the value of diversity. Because of Jodi, I have actively volunteered for more than 50 local organizations.

I began my 40-year career in financial services as a full-time teller at Marine Bank while completing an MBA from Gannon. I moved up through every position to Regional Manager, with responsibility for 51 PNC branches and 350 employees in 10 counties. This was during a time of radical transformation in banking, with new technology and movement to a Sales Culture – great preparation for transforming a city.

I enjoyed teaching, both at the high school and college levels. I’ve also taught banking professionals at Bucknell, Penn State, Georgetown & the University of Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Bankers Association and the American Bankers Association from 1988 to 2017. I was elected mayor in 2017 and would welcome the opportunity to continue serving the Erie community in that capacity for another term. 


Why did you want to run to be Erie's mayor?


I felt called to run for my first term a Mayor in 2017. I had a great 40-year career in banking, but felt called to turn around Erie, which has been losing population and businesses since the late 1970s. My team and I have learned and accomplished a great deal during our first term and we are positioned to really accelerate Erie's transformation over the next 4 years. 

I’ve been Mayor now for over three years. I’ve never work so hard, but never enjoyed a job so much. A great team formed around me. Virtually all of us are descendants of immigrants and refugees. We have sworn in about 500 New Americans every year at our Federal Courthouse. I always attend and welcome the New Americans. It unites me with my Mom’s parents from Ireland and my Dad’s Parents from Sicily. My staff is diverse. We have women in key positions. Renee Lamis is my Chief of Staff, and Kathy Wyrosdick, who is the City of Erie’s first Planner created our first Planning Department. Niken Astari Carpenter, a new American, is my liaison to new Americans, Immigrants and Refugees in Erie. Michael Outlaw, is my Community Liaison to African Americans. All City Supervisors, including Police, Fire, and Public Works, are committed to diversifying their departments.

Everything we do is governed by our six-word Mission: Build Opportunity. Restore Hope. Transform Erie. And our 2 sentence Vision: Erie is a Community of Choice We celebrate our: - Rich Cultural Diversity - Welcoming Vibrant Neighborhoods - World-class Downtown & Bayfront - Excellent Education for Everyone -Abundance of Family-sustaining Jobs In January of 2020 we announced 26 measurable objectives that will make fulfill our Mission and Vision reality. View these on the City website.

Finally, please hold me accountable for how I will conduct myself as Mayor: I will always be Open, Honest, Transparent, and Accessible in everything I say and do. 


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

1. Be guided by our Mission and make our Vision a reality.
2. Have a net increase of 1,000 jobs in the City by 2025.
3. Transform Erie for decades to come by solving Erie's three major financial problems and making the most productive use of the $79.08 million coming to Erie from the American Rescue Plan by acquiring matching grants and working with the County and surrounding communities.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Our young adults and children are the future of Erie. Once COVID has become a memory, I look forward to getting back into Erie's schools for our 90-minute conversations between middle school students and our team, including Atty. Jack Daneri, Michael Outlaw, the County Sherriff, City Police and Fire Fighters, and members of our SPCP Council. These important conversations help children see the future and develop into productive citizens. The Community College is the one level of education that Erie has lacked. That will fill a large hole and propel the Erie region forward. I look forward to that starting in the Fall of this year.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

Responding to COVID-19 has moved Erie County's public health infrastructure forward dramatically. We are lucky to have UPMC Hamot, AHN St. Vincent, Millcreek Community Hospital, and LECOM (which educates more doctors every year than any other school in the country). Our health professionals have really come together to fight COVID-19. I look forward to working with them and the County Health Department to help Erie County's public health infrastructure continue to grow and develop.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

We have lost 28% of low-wage workers, and these are the jobs that need to be reestablished or replaced. In Erie, many of these jobs are part of welcoming and entertaining people in Erie and people coming here to enjoy our many unique experiences, including the Bayfront, Presque Isle, Convention Center, and minor league sports. The Chamber will play a major role in this, as well. Once COVID-19 is a memory, I believe that Erie will bounce back quickly and dramatically. I look forward to working with the Chamber to help small businesses rebound as well as all impacted residents.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

First, we must learn the rules and regulations for these funds once they are issued. Then I will work to maximize the benefits from these funds in two ways: 1) Work with the other Erie County municipalities and the County Executive, and 2) Identify and use as much as possible in matching grant funds. The American Recovery Plan provides the greatest opportunity we have ever had for us to improve and transform the Erie region. We must make the most of this incredible opportunity by working together and increasing the opportunity with grants and matching funds.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

My team will continue to use all tools available to invest long-term in Erie's economic development. Here are four examples of how we have already done that: 1) We established 8 Opportunity Zones in the City, which are the only Opportunity Zones in Erie County. We are now working to install free public WiFi, high-efficiency street lighting, and high-resolution cameras in the Opportunity Zones first and eventually across the City. 2) 20 months ago, we implemented the new LERTA, which has results in just over $85 million in investment in Erie. We have had 62 Commercial LERTA applications totaling over $73 million and 161 Residential LERTA applications totaling over $12.3 million. 3) We have also created three new grant programs for Erie businesses and doubled the amount available for loans to Erie businesses at rates 2% below bank rates. 4) Because we established a full-time Grant Writer, in our first three years in office we have brought $34.4 million in Grant Dollars into the City of Erie.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: John Morgan
Millcreek Township Supervisor

Current Employer(s)
Millcreek Township

About John
I am a professional planner serving in my first term as Millcreek Township Supervisor. Elected in 2015, I have been dedicated to bringing modern planning principles and best practices to Millcreek Township including establishing the first municipal planning department in Erie County, and leading the award-winning planning initiative “Embrace Millcreek”, Millcreek Township’s first comprehensive plan in twenty years.

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and I am a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Prior to taking office, I worked for the Erie County Department of Planning as Administrator of the Erie Metropolitan Planning Organization for ten years, where I managed community and multi-municipal plans and projects, and served on numerous technical advisory boards including Erie Refocused and Destination Erie.

I am a McDowell Graduate and single father of two residing in the Kearsarge area of Millcreek with my son, who is majoring in finance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and my little girl, who is a kindergartner at Chestnut Hill Elementary.


Why are you running for Millcreek Township Supervisor?


I chose to run for office in 2015 because I saw a severe lack of professionalism, transparency, and a commitment to public service in Millcreek Township. The majority of the Board at that time seemed more interested in playing politics and making decisions based on personal preferences than best practices, and I believed that my skills, education, and experience could make a difference for our community and help move Millcreek forward. I was honored and humbled to be elected as Supervisor in 2015, and I’m proud of the work I’ve helped our community accomplish to create and implement the Embrace Millcreek plan. I am running for a second term to keep that momentum going and not allow Millcreek to slip back to the same old politics of the past.

I’m dedicated to public service not politics. I wasn’t asked to run by politicians and special interests, I chose to serve to stand up to them, and I have. Because I believe good government requires principles and planning, not political favors and empty promises. Of course, no one person has all the answers or can solve every problem, but I am committed to always doing what’s right for our community, not what’s easy; to serving all of our residents, not just the politicians and special interests; and to making necessary tough calls instead of getting cheap headlines. Because continuing to challenge the status quo and putting principles over politics is the only way for us to keep moving Millcreek forward.

What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

My priorities for the Township are the following:

A. Continue to ensure the fiscal stability and public accountability of the Township government through proper and transparent budgeting processes; regularly evaluating operations to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and equity in delivering Township services; and setting budget priorities based on proper planning and long term investment strategies rather than quick fixes.

B. Continue to improve and expand our infrastructure maintenance program through investments in GIS technology, cross-training Township labor crews to better coordinate project management, and continuing our partnerships with the Erie Metropolitan Planning Organization and private industry to secure additional infrastructure funding (we have secured $900K federal dollars so far) and stretch it further with private sector efficiency (we have nearly doubled neighborhood paving since 2015)

C. Continue to preserve and expand our Township tax base through the implementation of the Embrace Millcreek Plan by continuing to utilize the Planning Department we established in 2017 to push back against blight to protect property values (we have doubled code enforcement actions since 2015), modernize our zoning and development codes to attract appropriate new development (we secured a $200K State Grant to update our ordinances), and tirelessly advocate for investment in the Gateway to Presque Isle. (we secured $2.5M to improve Peninsula Drive and are currently pursuing a $6.5M grant to transform 8th Street)


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

While I believe that this policy goal is important and necessary, I think any attempt on my part (or anyone running for municipal office) to express how Millcreek Township can have a direct impact on this item would amount to a little more than pandering. Second Class Townships have no legal authority or policy influence on matters of education.

However, what we can do, and what I have successfully advocated for is that our Board actively participates and invest in the Erie Forward Initiative to support the Chamber’s efforts to lead and coordinate these efforts. Also, by running a tight ship at the Township and implementing policies and programs that preserve and expand our tax base, our local school district will benefit by collecting more revenue at current millage rates which will lessen the tax burden on residents and businesses while maintaining funding levels for K-12 education in the Township.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

Similar to my previous response, this is an area of public policy that has very little opportunity to be directly impacted at the municipal level in terms of policy and financial support.

What we can do is work with public health entities to ensure that zoning and development standards in the Township are appropriate to allow for equitable distribution of healthcare services for ease of access. Also, we are very active in working with LECOM, the largest healthcare entity in the Township, to ensure that the LECOM Health System can expand services in our community while contributing equitably to the tax base.

And again, I am committed to Millcreek being an active investor and partner with the Erie Forward Initiative to support their advocacy efforts.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

Financial stability at the local level is not complicated. And maintaining it benefits everyone in the community alike whether homeowners, large industries, or small businesses. We just need to:

A. Reduce Projected Increases to Expenses
B. Enact programs to preserve the tax base
C. Make targeted prudent investments to expand the tax base

The only reason it gets complicated is a lack of political will to ask blunt questions, make tough calls, and stand up to self-serving outside influences.

A. The most impactful means to reduce projected increases are to negotiate tax-payer-friendly labor contracts. I believe that the right to unionize and collectively bargain is ESSENTIAL to a healthy and equitable economic system. HOWEVER, the key to financial stability in local government is for elected officials to “bargain” with union leaders, not roll over for them. In my first year in office, I led what turned into a two-year labor negotiation that resulted in a 20% reduction in our long-term cost projections. This has not endeared me to many of my fellow Democrats, but it was the absolute right thing to do for our Township. Millcreek no longer gives away the farm, but we still pay competitive family-sustaining wages to our employees and have not had any trouble securing top talent to open positions.

B. The most impactful means to preserve the tax base is to proactively and assertively enforce property maintenance and zoning ordinances, and again, this requires political will. Too often at the local level enforcement is hindered by political favors or the slightest hint of push back from property owners. Regardless of whether someone is connected or not, wealthy or not, or runs a business or not, everyone needs to be held to the same community standard. Exceptions and political influence lead to a systematic decline in the tax base through approving incompatible land uses and allowing disinvestment in properties.

C. The most impactful way to make targeted and prudent investments is to have a Community-Driven Plan and stick to it. That’s what we did by spending 2 years developing the Embrace Millcreek Plan. We brought every corner of the Township together to prioritize goals and objectives and we’ve been committed to implementing it. Developing and remaining committed to a community-driven plan is how a municipality avoids the tendency to give into squeaky wheels and doing political favors that spread finances too thinly and dilute the impact of investments. It takes political will to say “no” to developments and programs that look good in the headlines but hurt the long-term viability of our community.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

I think the most important thing to clarify is that this $225 million dollar award is not a lump sum. It’s going to be parceled out to dozens of entities and interests with a myriad of different restrictions and Federal programmatic goals and objectives. So I wouldn’t presume to dictate how all of those dollars ought to be spent. I will say that generally, I think the most appropriate thing for local governments to do with large one-time revenue enhancement is to:

A. Eliminate or restructure municipal debt. Millcreek is fortunate in that we don’t utilize bonds for operational expenses, but many local governments do which only increase their annual expenses. A one-time infusion of cash is an opportunity to create long-term reductions in annual expenses by paying off debts.

B. Make prudent investments to create a long-term revenue source for future projects and programs. This what I successfully advocated for in Millcreek when the Township received a one-time influx of $20M from selling the Water Authority. We invested those funds in a restricted account. The principal has generated $2M in interest so far, which we utilized to establish our Business Development Loan Fund programs.

C. Invest in significant long-term capital improvements and utilize the funds to leverage additional state and federal resources. This is what I successfully advocated for in Millcreek to utilize a portion of the principle of the Water proceeds to match and secure a $2.5M State grant to transform Peninsula Drive to enhance our tourism district, and to also utilize those funds to pursue a $6.5M State grant to redevelop the 8th Street Corridor which is a small business hub for the region.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I believe we’ve made great progress in Millcreek since I took office to be more proactive in business development and attraction. We have committed to a five-year investment in the Erie Forward Initiative. We have established the first-ever Business Development Revolving Loan Program in Millcreek Township with an initial investment of $2M to help the industry expand and small businesses thrive. We are currently performing site reviews as part of a Townshipwide Market Analysis to determine the most appropriate incentives to put in place (ie LERTA, TIF) in targeted areas of the Township. We are tirelessly pursuing State and Federal funding to redevelop the Gateway to Presque Isle District to support our tourism industry and local businesses, which to date has resulted in an unprecedented $5M of additional State and Federal resources to the Township. And we pursued an Opportunity Zone Designation for the Gateway to Presque Isle District.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Dylanna Grasinger
Erie County Executive

Current Employer(s)
USCRI-Erie (International Institute of Erie)

About Dylanna
Dylanna comes from a large and diverse working-class family. She moved to Erie in 2012, after leading human services agencies in Pittsburgh and Akron, Ohio. Dylanna has over 20 years of experience leading and positively impacting local communities. She was drawn to Northwest Pennsylvania’s potential and quickly realized that Erie County was the place she wanted to grow her roots.

Dylanna understands that people are what make Erie County special, and this is what connects her to our community. Whether biking through the countryside, volunteering with animal rescues, or helping to organize a neighborhood watch, Dylanna loves working with residents from all walks of life.

In addition to her work leading a human services organization, Dylanna volunteers her time with the Certification for Healthcare Interpreters Board of Commissioners and the Erie Mayor’s New American Council, and as a board member for Bike Erie, Multicultural Healthcare Evaluation Delivery System (MHEDS), and UPMC Hamot Diversity Committee. She is one of the founding organizers of Boulevard Park Association, an Erie neighborhood group working to connect neighbors.

Dylanna earned her B.A. in English from Kent State University, where she also received certification in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), as well as a Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Creighton University. Dylanna is now proud to call Erie County home. She and her husband, Greg, live in Erie with their three dogs and enjoy working alongside their friends and neighbors to create a better Erie County for all.


Why are you running for Erie County Executive?


Throughout my career, I have been committed to investing in not only our local businesses and economy but our human capital. I am passionate about creating and building a region that is both scalable and sustainable. In essence, I want to make the place I call home, the best it can be. The transformational growth we want to see has a short window, and the pandemic has tempered much of what we have already begun. We need to move on to the plans that we already have in place and spend more time doing and less time talking. I have the record to do this – and I will not only protect what I love about Erie County but also ensure we move it forward.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

1) To promote smart growth strategies into policy so we can build economic opportunities and reinvest in our current assets to make communities more attractive, diverse, economically stronger, and affordable for all Erie County.

2) To create a model county that that brings a diverse group of public-private partnerships to the table to enact systemic change making public health and safety a priority.

3) To foster a more modern, transparent, and open government that strives to make data-informed decisions, create equitable access for all residents, and serves as a good steward of tax-payer dollars.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Having been a successful advocate for vulnerable populations, I understand that communication is a dynamic, multi-directional flow of information and ideas that is needed to make progress. It takes active listening, patience, and persistence to achieve a longer-term strategic initiative. I also understand the importance of getting those who have the authority to make changes on your side. Using data-informed decisions to advocate for key initiatives is imperative. I also believe articulating – through extensive research and community informed opinion – that key initiatives like early education are investments in our community’s future. We are providing opportunities for children to thrive and adult residents to grow their skills and develop the tools they need for success in turn creating a more economically vibrant community.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

Again, advocacy is a developed skill set and takes persistence and time amongst other things to see results. In this case, the modernization of the public health infrastructure will require a drastic change in the way we collect, share, and analyze data at a multitude of levels: Local, State, and Federal. In addition, we also know that many public health problems are shouldered by marginalized communities. I would advocate for effective public-private partnerships that enrich the quality and reach of services. I would also say that we need to support, fund, and defend our public health experts and organizations, bring a diversity of voices to the table to reduce inequitable burdens, and create an advocacy team that addresses Erie County’s needs at both the State and Federal level.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

Having had direct oversight of a small business lending program for the past five years, I believe a thriving community is one where local government is friendly to small business owners. I would encourage financial stability within local and state government by being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and adhering to a budget that does not overburden the small business community. By bringing public-private partnerships to the table, we can create access to capital for minority populations who may have traditionally been underbanked or have low or no credit score, offer low-interest loans, and help increase energy efficiency by offering incentivized loans. This is key! However, using all available resources and actively working with the Small Business Administration identify ways to help local small businesses thrive will be important as well.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

The American Recovery Plan funds are tied to specific uses and should be utilized as directed to remain compliant. With that said, to employ funds by the end of 2024, Erie County will need a diverse group of stakeholders at the table acting with one cohesive voice. Within this expenditure timeframe, we should look at stabilizing operational budgets that have negatively been impacted by COVID-19 and strategizing so that we can invest in infrastructure and support workers and small businesses. We should be immediate in our response, inclusive in our approach, and intentional about making long-term positive impacts and investments in the region.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

Yes, I am willing to make long term-investments in economic development. By working with local leaders and assessing all the tools, such as gap financing, historic, and other credits, we have available we will ensure that we are moving forward rather than being tied in place.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Liz Allen
Erie City Council

Current Employer(s)
Erie City Councilwoman
Retired Journalist, Erie Times-News
Part-Time Clerk, Erie County Library
Part-Time Usher, UPMC Park

About Liz
My name is Liz Allen. In 1984, 15 years after I left home to study journalism at Marquette University in Milwaukee, I moved back to Erie, with my Brooklyn-born husband and our two young sons. As the oldest of six, I wanted to be closer to my family, although I didn’t expect that we would buy a house on the same street where I grew up.

In addition to Milwaukee, my husband, kids and I had also lived in Battle Creek, Mich.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and St. Louis, Mo. I learned a lot by moving around, including how important it is to broaden my horizons and to embrace new adventures. But Erie is the place where I’ve always felt most at home, and being close to family and lifelong friends was vital when I faced painful losses – the death of my first husband to a heart attack; the death of my oldest son to an aortic aneurysm; and the death of my second husband to prostate cancer. The resilience of the people I've been surrounded within Erie has helped me to cope with my grief, which never really goes away.

Erie is also a place where you can build a satisfying career without sacrificing your home life. I have worked most of my life as a newspaper reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers, including the Grand Rapids Press, Suburban Newspapers of St. Louis, and the Erie Times-News. I have been a writer/researcher at the Center for Consumer Affairs at the University of Wisconsin. At the Erie Times-News, I covered the education beat, worked as a copy editor and served as managing editor of the features department. As the administrative editor, I was responsible for the newsroom budget; for recruitment, training and development; and for running the teen journalism program, Fresh Ink. As the public editor from 2008 until retiring in 2015, I oversaw the Editorial Board and supervised the opinion and op-ed pages. But the best part of my job was writing my weekly column about “ordinary people,” which I launched in 2001 and continued to produce even after I retired in December 2015, until I announced my candidacy for Erie City Council in March 2017.

My other retirement pursuits include working as an usher for the Erie SeaWolves (where I’ll be back for the 2021 season); working as a per-diem clerk at the Erie County Library (I love to be surrounded by books); and doing freelance writing for the Erie Reader and for other occasional clients.

I am currently finishing my first four-year term on Erie City Council, where I am the liaison to the Blighted Property Review Committee; the Erie Land Bank; the Erie Redevelopment Authority; the Zoning Hearing Board; and the New Americans Council. I am also the delegate to the Erie Area Council of Governments.

I am happily remarried to a native New Yorker who also works for the Erie SeaWolves. Now that we are both vaccinated, we look forward to visiting our grandchildren this summer.


Why are you running for Erie City Council?


My writing experience and research skills can help Erie City Council to make good, informed decisions about important and issues.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Following through on the financial management plan presented to the city of Erie; creation of an equity/inclusion committee or commission; continued neighborhood revitalization.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I traveled to Harrisburg to speak to the state Board of Education about why Erie needs a community college. On Council, we also passed a resolution supporting the college. The city of Erie is poised to become part of Groundwork USA, which promoted sustainable neighborhoods, and other cities participating in Groundwork USA have used that opportunity to train participants for jobs in the green economy. I have suggested that there could be a role for the community college in such training. I also think that the community college will be the pipeline we've so desperately needed for training to fill the jobs where we've advocated for a diverse workforce, including construction. We also need to keep our eyes on the opportunities for jobs at Erie Insurance; at Wabtec; and at the start-up tech companies in Erie, and City Council members can continue to stress those needs, in our legislation, advocacy and our liaisons to various boards and authorities.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

Erie City Council should build relationships with Erie County Council, which has passed a resolution declaring that racism is a public health issue. We should examine what that language means as it impacts public health. We should be familiar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation measures of public health and how Erie County measures up in terms of obesity; substance abuse; smoking; teen parenting; and violence (including gun violence). We finally succeeded in making our parks smoke-free; that should not have been such a big battle. We also need to constantly be alert on how best to help those who are experiencing homelessness. Public health can also be improved by attention to parks, recreation, green space, and transportation.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

I would like to have a more clear definition of small business and what you mean by "overburdening." We have to have a balanced budget for the city of Erie and that means we have to keep an eye on growing revenue while also containing expenses. I would hope the ECRGP would advocate for fair funding for public education, which would reduce the property tax burden and, in turn, encourage financial stability within local government.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

We have to work collaboratively on how to allocate this funding. I have already attended a webinar with the Pennsylvania Municipal League and the National League of Cities to learn more about the American Recovery Act and the rulemaking that will be coming from the U.S. Department of the Treasury on how the funding can be spent and the timeline to create a spending plan. Certainly, we need to help the businesses hurt by the pandemic, but we also have to make sure we understand and follow through on how the pandemic hurt those most in need in our community.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

One of my jobs as a member of Erie City Council is to study such initiatives as proposed and implemented. I cannot single-handedly champion "tools or proposals" to drive growth. City Council is a part-time job and I rely on the economic development experts in the administration to evaluate such tools. I have been waiting to see whether the Opportunity Zone legislation will actually deliver on the promised jobs that are supposed to be coming our way. I have hope that the proposed IRG plant might fulfill those hopes. BTW, I would suggest for future surveys that you tailor them to the specific elected offices being sought. This survey took me about 90 minutes to fill out -- much longer than the seven minutes touted at the beginning! I would have done much more research into TIFs, etc.,, if I had known that would be a major focus of this survey. If you truly wanted to explore the qualifications of a candidate for Erie City Council, I would have suggested that ask one question to which a candidate could give one detailed answer.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Jasmine Flores
Erie City Council

Current Employer(s)
Currently Unemployed Doing Personal Caregiving

About Jasmine
Jasmine Flores is running for Erie city council to represent the lower Eastside and minority women in her community. As an Erie native raised on the lower Eastside she has seen and deeply felt the impact of elected officials pushing their poorer residents out. Erie Community is under massive gentrification done at the expense of the lower Eastside. She will work to develop a renters/tenant union to protect renters against slumlords and unsafe living conditions since she is a renter in the city. She wants to develop policies to protect residential communities that live in opportunity zones and prioritize the community's needs over developers' needs.

Jasmine has been involved with the fight for $15 to raise the minimum wage but believes in family sustainable wages for all especially in the City that is home to the poorest zip code in the country. Jasmine has been a community organizer and activist since the fall of 2018 and is a dues-paying member of Erie County United. Jasmine ran for city council in the Primary of 2019, she was 187 votes short to move on to the General. Jasmine graduated from high school in 2012, she went on to get a diploma as a medical assistant in 2013 from Great Lakes Institute of Technology. She has worked in the caregiving field as a personal care attendant since 2016. Jasmine believes everyone has the right to vote and actively registers voters throughout her community.


Why are you running for Erie City Council?


I decided to run for city council to bring new people into local politics that feel they don't have a voice. I decided to run for city council a second time because my community is responding to the issues and topics I bring to the table for the multiracial working poor community in Erie.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

The top three priorities I hope to address and achieve are renters protections, equitable development, and family sustainable job development to uplift our city of Erie residents out of poverty so they can buy homes and contribute to our tax base in the city.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I am a big supporter of Erie City having a community college and have worked with local groups to gain support for the community college over the past few years. I continue to support quality education for children throughout their life. I ultimately believe in free college education for all and we need to get to that conversation sooner rather than later. Our youth is the future and they deserve and need every opportunity to lift themselves out of the life of poverty they were born into at no fault of their own.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

As a person who is only 27 years of age we desperately need to modernize our public health infrastructure and encourage public-private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system. I personally would work or make connections with the proper people and channels to help advance our public health infrastructure and encourage these partnerships. We can not allow the last year of the pandemic to happen again the way it occurred. We all need to be proactive to make sure all our community members are taken care of, we are only as healthy as our sickest residents in their time of need.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

Our local small business community is what uplifts our community year-round. We need to see if the state would work with us to create a federally funded program to help us increase our minimum wage to help bring more money to our community without putting the local small business under an additional burden. The more funds our community has to spend in our community it multiplies and stays in our community.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

Community needs need to be prioritized, the community is always left behind when it comes time to spend funds on what they generally need. Our community and state need to step up and make internet access a public utility and bring access to every resident in our city and state. I will not even be open to the idea of using these funds to balance any budget going forward. These funds need to help our community not help pay for past bad financial decisions.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I have worked with Erie County United to get Community Benefit agreements to help protect residents. I still support the community having protections in exchange for the city giving developers incentives and tax breaks. We need to make sure that if a developer decides to leave after the 10 years of LERTA they get stuck with the bill, not our community members. Our Erie city homeowners can not afford any type of conversation or thought of increasing our property taxes. We as elected officials need to make sure that any new development being discussed and started is not going to cost our community down the line.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Kirk McCaslin
Millcreek Township Supervisor

Current Employer(s)
Millcreek Township

About Kirk
I am 57 years old and a lifelong resident of Millcreek Township. I am a 1981 graduate of McDowell High School. I am married and the father of four adult children and one grandchild. I have served the Millcreek community through the West Lake Fire Department for thirty-nine years. Of those thirty-nine years, I served as a Chief Officer for nine years and as Chief of the Department for fifteen years. I have been employed by Millcreek Township for thirty-seven years. I was an emergency dispatcher for twenty-two years and have been a streets department laborer for the past fifteen years. I have many hours of continued education through the fire department and work. Some of the courses attended have been Incident Command, Rescue, and Leadership as well as passing the Bituminous Field Technician course (paving) provided by Penn State University.


Why are you running for Millcreek Township Supervisor?


I decided to run for city council to bring new people into local politics that feel they don't have a voice. I decided to run for city council a second time because my community is responding to the issues and topics I bring to the table for the multiracial working poor community in Erie.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

There are a number of infrastructure issues that have been ignored or have been put on the back burner for far too long:

Number one - the more than two hundred (200) miles of Township maintained roads are in need of some sort of maintenance. I have talked to residents who have said that their road hasn't been paved in over twenty (20) years...they aren't wrong. According to Township officials, there is no record of forty percent (40%) of roads being paved in the last twenty (20) years. This is unacceptable. The annual budget for paving can and should be doubled without a tax increase. The Township is relying on federal monies to fund the bulk of paving. There are additional resources for funding and to, once again, utilize the Township-owned asphalt plant to supplement annual paving programs.

Number two - flooding as a result of stormwater run-off. This has been talked about for far too long. Action needs to happen. Millcreek has lost numerous businesses and residents relocating because of inactivity. Stop talking and move forward with the projects. Seek alternative funding through the County, State, and Federal agencies.

Number three - to ensure ALL of our first responders have the resources, staffing, and support that they need to do their jobs safely.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I believe education is important, but not all students are in need of a four (4) year degree. With the right mixture of higher education, as well as apprenticeship opportunities, students will have the knowledge to enter into the workforce. This effort will be fruitless, however, without good-paying jobs right here. I plan to work on workforce development and business recruitment. In addition, in light of the County's failed attempt at a Community College a few decades back, I am making a promise to the people of Millcreek - not a single taxpayer dollar will go to funding the Erie Community College. I believe that it should be run like a business - they must be resourceful to gain new students, to help support the brick and mortar they are creating - taxpayers should not be required to be the lifeline of this organization.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

As a first responder, I have seen firsthand the seriousness of the pandemic. We have found out that there is never enough knowledge and information. The PPE used in the field was sufficient for our use. Should the situation in Erie County been much worse, different plans would have been needed. I don't believe that our local emergency departments are overtaxed. I believe our ICUs were not at capacity and that there were sufficient ventilators. I would advocate the County government to stockpile additional PPE for emergency responders and look into portable structures (tents) in case of hospital capacity. I would be an advocate as far up the ladder as needed but I believe it starts locally.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

I believe the role of government is to be supportive, not to finance small businesses. By creating an environment that allows small businesses to thrive, by being fiscally responsible with tax dollars are not over-taxing and under-performing. Businesses need roads for consumers to get to them. As mentioned previously, we need to focus on the roads and the flooding issues to help small businesses thrive. We need to lessen the barriers to entry for our entrepreneurs, not create new ones.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

This appears to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take care of many problems. First and foremost for our community is infrastructure. Ensuring transportation throughout the community is vital. Roadways in disrepair, stormwater flooding, aging sewer and water systems to name a few. A safe community is just as if not more important. Ensuring that all areas of public safety (police, fire, medical, emergency management) are properly funded and staffed accordingly to meet the community's needs.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

As much as Millcreek has "grown out", long-term investment in economic development is always on the table. I would promote working with developers and contractors in whatever fashion needed were fiscally responsible. Currently, there is a plan in place to upgrade the West 8th Street corridor from Pittsburgh Avenue to Peninsula Drive and north on Peninsula Drive to the entrance of Presque Isle State Park. Continuing with that project will enhance the entire area. If the chance for an Opportunity Zone or TIF project were to become available in Millcreek it would be something to seriously look into.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Justin Peter Pacansky
Fairview Township Supervisor

Current Employer(s)
Erie Sand and Gravel

About Justin
I was born and raised on my family farm in Fairview. I’m a 4th generation Farmer, a 2005 FHS graduate, a US Air Force Vet, and a 2011 graduate of Edinboro University. Since 2013 I have been a freelance commercial diver and underwater welder.


Why are you running for Fairview Township Supervisor?

To ensure my future children will have the same opportunities I had growing up.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Expanded school zones for our children’s safe commute, controlled growth using Fairview zoning, and continue with our downtown renovation.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Our children are our future, they are our highest incentive, anything we can do to help them grow into good human beings should be our number one priority.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

Listen to the expert’s suggestions and opinions as well as the people’s thoughts on this issue and come up with a plan to address this.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

Fairview is currently very stable, I would continue to work with the other two supervisors to continue the economic growth and stability.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

Again, our first priority is our children and schools, an expanded school zone would force drivers to slow down at crosswalks. I would then look at our parks and recreation areas to provide the residents with areas to seek relaxation and comfort in our busy lives.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

The Fairview downtown renovation is the current long-term investment. I haven’t looked into such tools as opportunity zones or the TIF.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Steve Rathmann
Greenfield Township Supervisor

Current Employer(s)
Owner, Rathmann Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

About Steve
My wife and I have lived in Greenfield Township for 25 years. I am the 3rd Generation Owner of a Local Commercial Plumbing and Heating Company. I was appointed to the Greenfield Township Planning Commission and served one term. After serving one year on the planning commission, I ran as a candidate for Greenfield Township Supervisor and was elected twice as a Greenfield Township Supervisor. For 12 years, I have served as a Township Supervisor, along with past and present Supervisors, we have completed many projects thru grants including bridge replacements, dirt and gravel roads grants, drainage, upgraded equipment and buildings, and cooperated with neighboring townships.

In 2012, The Greenfield Township Volunteer Fire Company was reorganized. At the first meeting of the Greenfield Township Volunteer Fire Company, I was nominated as President of Green Field Fire Company. I served as President for six years. I currently hold the position of Vice President. Since reorganizing, the Fire Company has increased firefighter enrollment from 3 members to 16 firefighter and EMS providers. The Fire Company has updated and replaced safety equipment, purchased a used rescue vehicle, purchased a brand new tanker, replaced the roof, has installed new overhead doors, and received numerous state and federal grants.


Why are you running for Greenfield Township Supervisor?

I am running for the office of Supervisor to continue to improve our Township.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Hard Surface Roads, Drainage Projects, Grant Opportunities


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Promote Workforce Development, Skilled Labor Force


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

N/A

According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

Programs to get paid while you are paid.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

Construction and renovation. 


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

N/A

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Tim May
Harborcreek Township Supervisor


Current Employer(s)
Harborcreek Township

About Tim
I am currently a Harborcreek Township Supervisor seeking reelection. I was born and raised in Harborcreek and of course still reside in Harborcreek with my wife Kelly and children Mitchell and Madison. Before being elected Harborcreek Township Supervisor I was employed in the private sector working in Sales, Accounting, and Material Acquisition. In addition, I was involved in numerous community organizations. Since my employment with Harborcreek Township I have helped create the HC Emergency Response Team to assist local volunteer departments, maintained a no tax increase budget while increasing township services and upgrade equipment, organized numerous community activities to increase resident pride in Harborcreek, and worked with colleagues and developers on revitalizing business offerings in Harborcreek through streamlined land development, open communication and a LERTA program designed to assist developers in locating to Harborcreek while preserving agricultural history in Harborcreek.


Why are you running for Harborcreek Township Supervisor?

Because of my passion for Harborcreek and hopes of the continuation of steady, responsible growth.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Continue to work with developers on steady, responsible growth in Harborcreek, ensure public safety through supporting local volunteer fire departments with the Harborcreek Township Emergency Response Team, and implement a road maintenance plan that preserves the townships' roadways.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Since being elected as a Harborcreek Township Supervisor I along with my colleagues have worked to establish a strong relationship with educational organizations in Harborcreek including the Harbor Creek School District and Penn State Erie and would certainly look forward to communicating with the Erie County Community College for the purpose of relaying to them what workforce abilities not only the township is looking for but for local businesses as well.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

As mentioned before I would advocate for public-private partnerships through open communication - government should not be a roadblock to modernization but become a partner in development.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

I have helped to launch the Harborcreek Community Engagement Team with the mission statement of "Collaboration for the betterment of Harborcreek through the sharing of ideas and support of community-based activities within the township". This team includes local businesses and organizations that encourage shopping and dining local and supporting local organizations. One of the continual messages the team promotes is "Keep it in the Creek" - an initiative that is continually mentioned throughout the township.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

Harborcreek is anxiously awaiting more information and clarification on what projects the American Recovery Plan will assist in - there are certainly many ideas already bantered around. With this being our opportunity to make a large and lasting impact - decisions should be made after considering how to best be stewards of the Recovery Funds.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

Harborcreek Township offers a tax abatement program that allows businesses to be competitive in today's market. Offerings include five-year 100% in the business corridor and a stepdown incentive in the Growth Boundary Area. Developers should know that residential offerings are also available.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: David Gregory
Fairview Township Supervisor


Current Employer(s)
Andover Bank

About David
My family, both on my dad's and mom's side of the family, have been Fairview residents back into the 1800s. My wife and I have been residents of Fairview our entire lives. My parents both graduated from Fairview, my three brothers graduated from Fairview, my wife and I graduated from Fairview and my two sons have graduated from Fairview. As you can see I'm very well rooted in the Fairview community.

As I said, I graduated from Fairview High School and Clarion University of PA with a degree in Finance. I've done everything in the Bank/Credit Union world from being a branch manager to Chief Financial Officer. I'm currently the Compliance Officer with Andover Bank based out of Andover, Ohio. In the addition to that we also run a little roadside vegetable stand right on Rte 5 just east of White Hall Village. Started with just pumpkins in the fall to where we are today. We start with strawberries and asparagus in June straight through to pumpkins in October. We're big animal lovers. Having provided a home to many dogs and cats through the years. I enjoy hunting, fishing, working out, Penn State and all the Pittsburgh professional teams. I've never had any legal problems including never even getting a speeding ticket.

Having lived in Fairview my whole life everything in the community is very important to me. The residents, the school district, businesses, fire department and the township are all important. Getting all of them to work together towards making our community a safer, better place to live is my ultimate goal.


Why are you running for Fairview Township Supervisor?

Actually, I've discussed being a township supervisor through the years with the current supervisor Pete Kraus. Pete and I graduated high school together. So he knows me and my family. He thought I would be a good fit because I have business knowledge on one side and I've operated farm equipment my whole life. Fairview Township supervisors are working supervisors so in addition to having knowledge on the business side you also have to know how to run the equipment. In addition, I also already have my Class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL) so I am fully able to contribute by walking in the door. I don't believe this is really a political job. It shouldn't come down to who has the most friends in the township. Unfortunately, there isn't an interview process so the residents don't really get a chance to look at our resume and ask us questions. I just hope that whichever candidate gets elected they bring to the job knowledge to do the job and do what's best for Fairview Township. I've already have told some that if elected I would stay for two 6 years terms if I was lucky enough to get re-elected for a second term. Then, I would retire and let someone else add their skills and talent to help run our fine community.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

1) Slow and steady growth in Fairview Township. In all areas from business to residents. If a community grows too quickly it can really burden infrastructure, school district and fire departments.

2) Continue with the improvement of the Fairview "downtown" area. Continue to make sure that it continues to look like a community where people want to raise a family.

3) Make sure that Fairview Township gets its share of Federal and State grant money that may come available for equipment upgrades and projects within the township.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Since being elected as a Harborcreek Township Supervisor I along with my colleagues have worked to establish a strong relationship with educational organizations in Harborcreek including the Harbor Creek School District and Penn State Erie and would certainly look forward to communicating with the Erie County Community College for the purpose of relaying to them what workforce abilities not only the township is looking for but for local businesses as well.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

As the pandemic has shown the world you can never be prepared for everything. The modernization of public health data systems can only help to better our health care system. The efficient exchange of information between the public sector and private sector can do nothing but improve the care that ultimately the residents receive. I would advocate as much influence as I could as a township supervisor toward this initiative.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

As a township, we have to make it as inviting as possible without "giving away the shop" as they say. Fairview Township has an industrial park that still has area for future businesses. I know in our case we can't make it so restrictive that a potential business will find it so difficult to meet all the requirements that they decide to take their business and jobs somewhere else.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

I believe Fairview is in pretty good shape fiscally. However, these funds could help stabilize the township's operating budget for years to come. Allow the township to make upgrades to equipment and help with other projects that have been in the planning stages to years. I just hope that when we look back 10 years from now we made the best use of the funds provided.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

Obviously, I would want to do whatever is possible to improve my community. In my community, Fairview Township, for which I'm running for supervisor we do not have these areas. However, in my business of banking through the Community Reinvestment Act or CRA we have to make sure that we're are making investments of both time and money to MMCT's or Major Minority Census Tracts which many of these areas are located. In the City of Erie we do have these areas. In reviewing both Opportunity Zones and Tax Increment Finance there are examples of success and failure. There seems to be a fine line between whether a plan works or not. So I believe that each individual instance would have to be looked at to make sure that there would be the least chance of failure and the community being influenced badly.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Nancy Agostine
Summit Township Supervisor


Current Employer(s)
No Response

About Nancy
AS in Business Administration (‘95) and BA in Business Management (‘00) from Mercyhurst University;
16 years Director of Land Development, Zoning and Public Relations - Summit Township (1995-2011);
6 years Summit Township Supervisor, including Treasurer/Chair/Director of Land Development (2012-2017);
2 years Partnership Specialist - U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Census (2019-2020);

A total of 25 years working with the public, government officials, businesses and schools.


Why are you running for Summit Township Supervisor?

Current Board of Supervisors has not educated Summit’s residents regarding major changes to the Zoning Ordinance and Map. These changes will result in the rezoning of hundreds of individual parcels without the knowledge of their owners. There has been absolutely no transparency, particularly with respect to such major changes.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Educating the public prior to making any major changes. Complete transparency of our local government and adherence to Sunshine Law and other legal requirements. Greater control of miscellaneous spending and targeted long-range goals (ie. more focused fiscal responsibility).


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

By working closely with Erie County government, local businesses, schools and residents to make sure Summit Township participates in these key initiatives; all of which are vital to community development.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

I am unable to answer this question at this time.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

By continuing to keep local taxes low and creating new programs to support our surviving businesses via STEIDA (Summit Economic and Industrial Development Agency).


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

The Supervisors need to make sure that this money is used to benefit as many residents, in as many areas of Summit Township as is possible (while adhering to program restrictions). The best way to do this is with infrastructure projects on local roads/bridges; focused water/sewer projects to correct deficiencies; and making the internet available. Whatever expenditures best improve the general health, safety and welfare for all residents.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

If used properly and carefully, these can be excellent tools. I was part of the team that worked on the TIF for Lord Corporation in Summit Township. This was critical to both Summit and Erie County.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Tom Spagel
City of Erie Mayor

Current Employer(s)
Stanganelli's Italian Foods

About Tom
Graduated East High, 1985
Graduated Gannon University: BS, Economics 1992; MBA 1996
US Air Force: Intelligence Analyst 1985-1989
US Army Intelligence Officer: 1989-2010 (Retired Major)
Two Tours in Iraq, (Bronze Star Recipient)
Owner, Stanganelli's Italian Foods for 28 years
Adjunct Professor at Gannon University and Edinboro University
Erie School Board Member 2013 to Present
Current or Prior Board Member of: YMCA, Saints & Sinners, IU5, Erie County Veterans Park, Times-News Editorial Board, Erie Maennerchor


Why are you running to be the mayor of the City of Erie?

To create opportunity for our children. My wife and I just love Erie and we feel that Erie needs sound leadership to guide us to success.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Job Creation, Restructure Erie's Financial Strategic Plan, Build relationships with the Erie School District, Harrisburg and D.C.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Absolutely! Coming from an educational background, I believe there is nothing more important than providing any level of education that is appropriate for a person's age level, skill level and desired employment objective.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

We need to work with our businesses to see what they need to be able to address the public health issues. The Community School Programs the Erie School District, in collaboration with the United Way, is a great example of what we can do to improve the underserved citizens of Erie.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

I would work with state legislatures to ensure the raise in minimum wage will be done in a reasonable and responsible manner. I agree the wage needs to be increased but at a pace that will not overburden small businesses. It should be tiered by age as a 16-year-old high school student is not expected to perform at the same level of an adult. It should also be tied to the cost of living of particular areas. As an example, Erie does not have the same cost of living as Philadelphia.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

With this funding, I would allocate a significant portion to a fund that would loan out funds in blocks of $100,000 and tie those funds to job creation. Even if you charge only a quarter of a percent on the loans, it will provide an opportunity to start companies, provide a needed financial injection to companies that need it and create jobs for Erie's citizens.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I am in absolute favor of applying for a CRIZ. It has worked in Lancaster and I believe this program will have immediate and long term benefits for Erie. As a member of the Erie School Board, I voted for LERTA and it has shown to be successful.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Carl Anderson
Erie County Executive

Current Employer(s)
Self-Employed; Historical Researcher
Erie County Councilman

About Carl
Carl Anderson, III has represented Erie County Council’s District 4 since 2018. Mr. Anderson currently serves as the Chairman of County Council, Chairman of the Pleasant Ridge Manor Board of Directors, Chairman of the Erie County Retirement Board, and Co-Chair of the COVID Impact & Economic Revitalization Committee. Chairman Anderson is the liaison to the City of Erie, the Erie County Community College, the Erie County Convention Center Authority, Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, ECRDA/All Related Boards, Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership, Erie Western PA Port Authority, and VisitErie.

Anderson is an entrepreneur and self-employed historical researcher and consultant and has been actively involved in a variety of community events and historical projects over the years, including the George Washington Park in Waterford, the World War I Centennial remembrance and the Empower Erie Board of Directors.

Anderson is passionate about economic development and revitalization of the community, saying, “Bringing jobs to Erie and creating an environment for economic development is critical for our community. I want to ensure we have a bright future here for our children and grandchildren.”

Anderson grew up on Erie’s east side, where he continues to live today. He is a graduate of Erie Tech Memorial and Mercyhurst University, where he earned a Contract Major Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Political Science in 1992 and a BA in Education in 1993.

He joined Prudential Securities in 1995 as a financial adviser; from 1996 to 2005, he was the vice president for investments with Morgan Stanley. Since 2005, he has operated his own business, doing historical research and consulting. He is the country’s foremost expert on General Jacob Bayley, and he has authored and co-authored historical books and articles. Anderson also lectures on the American colonial and revolutionary eras, as well as Erie County history.

Anderson has dedicated much of his time on Erie County Council in advocating for opportunities for higher education through the creation of a standalone community college. He believes education in itself can be effective in reducing poverty levels, and he is committed in creating an environment where the County of Erie can thrive and grow as a community. In June of 2020, Anderson’s persistence paid off, and the Pennsylvania State Board of Education granted Erie County’s application for Community College.

Anderson and his wife, Evelyn, have two children, Carl IV and Autumn Rose.


Why are you running to be Erie County Executive?

Erie County has a once and a lifetime opportunity to propel itself into the 21st century. For years we have heard, “Erie is years behind other counties”. The American Rescue Act money will put us in the position to address many of the issues that have caused us to fall behind. I believe my ability to work “across the aisle” and get things done puts me in the perfect position to lead our County in becoming the community it was always meant to be.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

1: Broadband and new unique local industries increasing JOBS. By creating new and progressive ways to increase revenue and take the burden off the property taxpayer - such as the 1 percent local option sales tax which has been a priority in my platform for many years. At least 20 percent of this new revenue would go toward economic development. Broadband is a vital component for economic success and jobs.

2: Supporting small and large business retention and growth. Giving businesses the tools to survive, stay and grow and attract new businesses by giving them the tools to succeed. Additionally balancing that with a trained workforce that makes a family-sustaining wage so the workers can stay here. It is all about unity - business owners and workers are vital to each other. Increasing the number of job opportunities!

3: Education on every level. Education is the cornerstone of all successful communities. Early intervention - Pre-K, Police Athletic League, Youth Leadership, Eagle's nest, Character Be About It, our Community Centers - are vital programs. Lifelong workforce development and training will always be necessary components to our community. Without question, the community college is a key element tied directly to our community's success. I have and will always remain an unwavering champion for the community college. Very few have done more work than I have in fighting for this community resource and no elected official will fight harder than me for its success and for creative ways to fund it so it is not a burden to our property taxpayers. As we prepare our workforce for local jobs. 


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I believe in my position as County Executive, I will be able to do even more as a champion of education here in Erie County. I will coordinate with state officials, federal officials, and our local philanthropic community to ensure our community college is a lasting economic driver in our county’s future.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

Trust and building relationships between our healthcare workers and the communities in which they are surviving. Also by investing in the Health Dept. itself. Building community partnerships with our local healthcare providers will also benefit the overall public health system.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

While serving on County Council, we set up programs from CARES funds to ensure the survival of small businesses in our community. With the large amounts of money that are coming into our community, we need to set aside a portion to ensure the survival and growth of our small business community because they are the backbone of our economy.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

As County Council President I created the Covid Impact and Revitalization committee with the anticipation we would have these funds. Through collaboration, cooperation, unity, and trust is how we will best leverage the funds in our community. The county government technically only has $52,000,000 coming our way. Through various silos it could be an additional $100,000,000 in funds. If the American Jobs and Rescue Act passes we could possibly have additional $500,000,000 million dollars. This will be our greatest chance at transforming Erie County into the area it was always meant to be. I have also proposed that every municipality and school district have the autonomy to set their own priorities and select a representative to present their respective group’s priorities to a countywide task force. We would collaborate and leverage funding where we can in the most strategic way.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I support most alternative revenue-generating programs that will progressively move our community forward. We need to keep more money in Erie County and less in Harrisburg. I believe Project Labor Agreements, Opportunity Zones, and TIFs can all be beneficial to our economic development, as long as they are used strategically and not at the detriment of public services.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Timothy Gostomoski
Erie County Council and Erie School Board

Current Employer(s)
Retired, Verizon
Part-Time, Fisher Security

About Timothy
I was born on 4/24/59 in Forestville NY. I attended Holy Rosary School and St John Kanty Prep. I graduated From Gannon University in 1992 with a BA in Arts and Humanities with a concentration in Political Science and Geography. I have taken several courses since in Education and Computers. I currently belong to the SHU, the Polish Foresters, and the Apartment Association, I am a Life Member of the NRA. I retired from Verizon and own 2 properties in the city. I am single. Formally I was involved in the local Republican Party and was on the Board of Directors of both the SHU and Polish Businessmen 's Club.


Why are you running to be Erie County Council and Erie School Board?

I am worried about the direction we are taking and want this one-time money we receive is not wasted.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Economic Development, Infrastructure, and improved Internet access.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

What really needs to be done is to see how we can improve the workings of the Erie School District. I have no specific proposals at this time.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

I have no specific proposals at this time.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

We need to look at ways of reducing both the tax and regulatory burdens placed on businesses. One place to begin would be to see how we can reduce the scope of government and make it more effective where it needs to act. Throwing more money at problems is not a sustainable strategy in politics or business.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

It should be spent on one-time projects and expenses for example paying down debt. It should not be used to prop up continuing expenses.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I am in favor of Opportunity Zones, Tax Abatement , Land Tax reform and other tools to spur economic growth not redistribution. We need a bigger pie not smaller pieces and growth is what will accomplish that.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Herbert Riede
Erie County Council

Current Employer(s)
C H Reams and Associates
Co-Owns Rabid Nerd in Union City with fiancé 

About Herb
Born and raised in Erie, Herb Riede has had a wealth of different life experiences that have taught him a range of life lessons. The youngest of 11 to parents in their second and third marriage who were from wildly different backgrounds, Herb grew up with siblings who hunt, fish, and work in factories and others who work for GMA, NASA, and in finance.

Herb lives in Union City with his fiancé Lisa, and together they have four children (two of each), one granddaughter, and a bird. They also run a computer repair store called Rabid Nerd on Main Street. By day, Herb works as a developer in Erie and Lisa is an on-call substitute in Union City.

Herb's father was 57 when he was born and retired early. Herb bounced from school to school and his father passed away when Herb was 12. Herb attended schools in Erie, Corry, Union City, Tidioute, and Las Vegas. Life would swing from placing in the top 10 young bowlers in the nation one year to living in a camp without electricity and running water outside Tidioute for a year the next. After his father died, Herb ended up homeless in Vegas with his mother for a month at 15 and quitting school.

Since he was 17, Herb has worked full time. He has a bachelor's in IT, a Master’s in Education and is working on a Master's Degree in Cybersecurity. Herb has developed multi-million dollar eCommerce platforms, home party programs, and lottery drawing software, and serves as a judge for the annual Webby awards.

Entering politics in the early 2000s, Herb was elected at 23 to the Borough Council of McSherrystown, PA, defeating a 30 year-plus incumbent. He became Mayor in 2005. He was unopposed for re-election in 2009, but after his mother had a stroke, his family relocated back to the NWPA area to be close to family. His mother passed away last month.

Herb loves to be given problems that need to be solved and his philosophy is that to get things done you need to make things go. While the adage Make Things Go is not very descriptive, the underlying meaning is to admit that many times something that is said that is impossible, or that it can't be done is really just saying it’s hard, or it is difficult. Once you admit it is possible and begin thinking about actually doing something, it can suddenly become easier as you constructively apply your creativity and problem-solving skills towards a solution. So if something stands in your way, just Make Things Go. You might not succeed, but you don't know if you don't try.


Why are you running to be on Erie County Council?

Every business I talk to has either never heard of or from our Council member, or has a bad opinion of him, and I have experience and skills for the position. No specific agenda.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Make people want to MOVE to Erie County
Make people want to SPEND in Erie County
Make Erie County OPERATE like an efficient government with adequate services


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

We are a big Education household, both with education degrees, so we are very aware of the big impact education has on a person's life! Especially as someone who has gone through the hard path from GED to M.Ed.!


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

The primary deficiency in our public health infrastructure is the outsourcing and remote control of it from outside of Erie. The biggest mistake was not consolidating Erie's infrastructure together and instead allowing it to be taken over by foreign conglomerates based in Pittsburgh. It has decimated the quality of care in the 6th District to near nil.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

I am concerned that the loss of small businesses may not be evenly spread, and we may find municipalities gravely hit vs others that are not as bad off. If there is a way to spread these effects across the county, and then the state can do the same for uneven county effects across the state - temporarily - we may be able to minimize the impacts of a temporary setback as new business comes back, hopefully, during the roaring '20s.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

In my previous answer, I allude to the possibility that the loss of small businesses may not be evenly spread out, and the impact to the tax base across municipalities may be severe to some communities. Where there is a severe impact, some emergency budget support may be necessary for missing revenue. Other funds should go towards restoring any critical core services cut during the pandemic, then provide assistance to households (Rent/Mortgage/Utility), Nonprofits and Small Businesses (Grant), then impacted industries.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

The TIF idea is very promising as a long-term way to increase affordable housing. I am open to Opportunity Zones, Main Street initiatives and other infrastructure, though I am wary and need convincing when "initiatives" are granted any kind of power.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Kendrick Tate
Erie City Council

Current Employer(s)
Currently Unemployed

About Kendrick
My name is Kendrick Tate and I’m running for Erie City Council. I’ve been raised in Erie since I was 3 years old, and I’ve attended Northwest PA Collegiate Academy and Penn State University-Main Campus. I’ve seen and experienced the long-lasting issues that Erie has faced for years. I believe we need a new vision for our city, and it starts with equitable community and economic development, livable wages and family-sustaining jobs, and protections for our renting population. I know first-hand how hard it is to make a living here as a young 26 year old man, as a black man, and as a single man. The opportunities for a single life-sustaining job for an individual in the city are horribly scarce. I’ve been passed over for open positions where I’ve worked that I was well-qualified and went above and beyond for. I’ve been wrongfully discriminated against by irrational fear that has taken away viable career opportunities. I will change this environment for every person in the city who has had even fewer opportunities in life than I’ve been given. On City Council, I plan to do everything with the benefit of the working poor and marginalized as my guiding principle.


Why are you running to be Erie City Council?

I chose to run for this office because of my intense desire to see equity in my community. Erie residents deserve to feel protected, motivated, and optimistic about their community and their future in it. We deserve to live in a place that sufficiently attends to the housing needs of the one-third of its population that rents their home. Erie residents deserve the benefit of a City Council that actively works to provide their population in poverty, more than double the state average, with a framework for jobs and occupational education that will lift them into a better life. Erie’s historically underserved communities deserve the benefit of County and City development policies to increase the quality of life, both economically and culturally.

What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

My top three priorities are:

1) to govern with a barometer of the economic and cultural impact of my policy decisions;
2) to protect the rights of our working poor population in the residential, professional, and developmental contexts; and
3) to increase the accessibility of our Erie residents to the governing policies that affect their present and future.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Education at all levels is key to the stability and potential of our workforce. Early education is not only the foundation for a child’s intellectual development, but it’s also a necessity for the stability of our working families. K-12 education is more readily available through public schooling, and throughout a student’s career, they establish themselves as an individual in their community. Post-secondary education is essential for the students who feel that high school did not allow them to see their potential as individuals and workers. On City Council, I will advocate for the development of programming by early childhood educators and for-profit/nonprofit contributions to early childhood education, I will promote the involvement of local small and large business owners in primary/secondary school business education, and I will establish strong administrative relationships between Erie’s small and large businesses and the Erie County Community College for real-world educational opportunities.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

Advocating for public health infrastructure modernization means working to establish a relationship with our local hospitals, outpatient clinics, and emergency services that goes beyond finance. On City Council, I would urge the city’s public safety department to consider the inclusion of medical and mental health services along with police and fire, and argue for the state to include medical professionals in the emergency services collective bargaining law, PA 1968 Act 111. I would further urge the Council and government to work closely with the County Health Department located close to our Downtown area to address the accessibility of health services around our city, and to conduct targeted studies based on census data that will help to determine and increase the effectiveness of emergency, PCP, specialist, and outpatient treatment from Erie’s two massive hospitals, UPMC Hamot and AHN Saint Vincent, Emergycare, local medical care providers, and for-profit/nonprofit mental health organizations.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

Our small businesses have taken on the worst burden of the business community throughout this pandemic, while large corporations have benefited from record profits over the past year and even prior. I will advocate for the institution of a relief tax paid by large state and interstate corporations based in PA for the purpose of supporting small business growth, as well as measured local and state tax abatement for small businesses within the city of Erie who are looking to reopen or are first forming during this pandemic.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

My first priority would be to provide funding to our residents who were laid off from their positions due to the pandemic, who are unable to return to their previous jobs.

My next priority would be to provide local tax abatement to small businesses who have been able to stay open through the pandemic without citation for ignoring CDC guidelines, as well as establish a pay premium for essential workers within the city.

My third priority would be to fund nonprofits and community centers that have been instrumental in administering Covid tests and vaccines to continue their medical service, to provide mental health services, and to fund future community engagement opportunities.

My fourth priority would be to conduct a survey of the most affected wards and districts in the city in terms of lost household income since the initial state emergency declaration, recruiting community organizations and local students, to effectively determine how to utilize the remaining funds according to the American Rescue Plan regulations.

My fifth priority would be to utilize the funds to establish reliable and affordable broadband access for our residents located in and out of Opportunity Zones.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I am fully invested in the long-term viability of our city, for our residents now and future transplants. On City Council, I would propose the adoption of a policy to build, buy, and foster clean energy production to create new opportunities for economic change in Erie. With Solar Revolution, an Erie-based solar energy supplier, GE, a leading manufacturer of wind turbines, and the presence of two universities in the city to promote clean energy research and implementation, Erie is provided with the opportunity to significantly invest in the development and study of various clean energy resources in our area. I would propose an investment in electric municipal vehicles and city sponsorship of electric personal vehicle usage, transforming the culture of our intra-city and inter-city transportation networks to spur the economy within our various neighborhoods and for businesses’ supply chains that utilize I-79 and I-90.

I support the progress that the city administration has made in finding and utilizing redevelopment grants, as well as the investment in small businesses through programs like KIVA to provide entrepreneurs with funding sources to establish new businesses, and I believe those programs are indispensable in creating a city that is attractive for its current residents and a magnet to compel enterprising and inspired people to move in. I advocate for a policy of investing in small businesses within designated communities like markets, childcare, and early education, and healthcare to build the foundation for those communities to decide on the future businesses that will best suit their long-term needs and desires. With the resources from programs like the Opportunity Zones and Community Development Block Grants, and with local finance tools like tax abatement and Tax Increment Finance as property values rise and future developments in underserved districts, wards, and census tracts become more attractive, I believe that we will heal our communities from years of neglect.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Scott Rastetter
Erie City Council, Sixth District

Current Employer(s)
Scott's Carpet

About Scott
I was elected to this position in 2017; term starting January one, 2019. In this part-time job, I feel like I have lived and learned 10 years of knowledge yet the time has gone so fast as it always does when you enjoy your work. This year I will pass the 50 years mark of being in the flooring business. I can't say that I have enjoyed every minute but it has been darn close. Perhaps I am just a dedicated bullheaded workaholic fool but I still don't know what else I would have done. The business steadily grew with a few economic setbacks that came with the times. Now it's time to ease into retirement and spend more time on my part-time County Council job. Business is a great foundation for this Council position research, finance, investing and people are the main functions of running a business and also important in running a county. Spending taxpayer money is a trust and an investment in everybody's future. I tell you right now you don't want to vote for the person that will send in 500 words in a bio about themselves.


Why are you running to be Erie County Council?

It was a great opportunity to get elected into an office that felt I could really make a difference for the community.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Bring the whole county together to fulfill its full potential, which will result in a cleaner, more productive, diverse, attractive community.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

The Community College stirs a lot of emotion in my district. When I first came into office I thought that I would have to be against the college even though I have believed in the idea of a community college since the 60s. As I have traveled around my district I have found that the college is totally misunderstood and that there are as many or more people for the college as against. When we have had public meetings on the college the split in opinion is always close with more pros than cons. It's the silent majority that understands the purpose and the need for the college.

Most of the people against the college have stopped reading this or will stop now but I will write it anyway. I have looked at the argument that we have enough colleges already and found that is absolutely false. In Erie County, we have about the average number per capita as any other county in the state and neighboring states and less than many counties. Excuse me for not looking up the numbers again but I did a couple of years ago and gave them in an address I made to a council meeting a year or so ago. Except we do not have a community college. We are not going to go out and build another Liberal Arts college that is another common misconception. This college is going to be dedicated to workforce development. With the government's reaction to the pandemic; giving recipients of unemployment hundreds of extra dollars per week, the lack of workers willing to work has become exacerbated. I hope this will turn the lights on in the publics' minds that we do need more trained workers. Then people point out that we have had unsuccessful attempts and yes I remember those but, I also remember many other defeats, mistakes, and tragedies. When you stop trying then you are defeated. We do have trade schools some have been successful some have not. These schools are not inexpensive and are cost-prohibitive for many people. The reasons for the success or failure of these schools are many and should not be considered an omen of failure for our Community College.

Our Erie County used to be ranked third most populous in Pennsylvania, since then we have steadily lost industry and the population average income has dropped. The cost of services go up steadily; so we have a balancing problem. How do we balance the money coming in ( tax dollars ) with the cost of services to the public? Simply put we have to try the grow the population ( number of taxpayers) and grow the average income. Workforce development is the only thing that will attract more jobs, more population and bring a better balance between taxes and services to the public. We will need to be cautious and plant the right seeds to grow our College starting small, choosing the right course of studies. not building an elaborate campus but starting with satellite branches around the county for easy access by students and faculty. It will be a big undertaking but it can be done I would like to see the whole county come together and celebrate this project. The whole country is watching, together it will be done.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

We are so blessed to have one of the best Health Departments in the country. In the past four years and especially the last year I have learned this first hand. They totally have my support and most likely always will.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

I live with instability in business every day. Forty-five years and I'm still at it. I would defiantly and already do encourage local governments to slow down, watch the expenses, promote buying local. I know that the local governments understand that better than the state and even the public. I hope this pandemic


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

Carefully Health, Infrastructure, Safety, Education, Broadband


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I would like to see a 0% interest loan program for small local businesses, more resource sharing between governments and businesses, more education for small businesses.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Marcus Yuille
Erie City Council

Current Employer(s)
Erie County

About Marcus
Marcus Yuille is an emerging leader with a vision to inspire positive change. Marcus is a native of southwestern Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the Monessen City Schools. It was during his time in Monessen that Marcus embarked on a journey of servant leadership. Upon graduation from high school, Marcus relocated to Erie, Pennsylvania to attend Penn State University, the Behrend College. The eldest of two sons, Marcus supported himself through college by working several on-campus work studies and community part-time jobs.

Remaining committed to his educational pursuits, Marcus obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Penn State University. During his academic career at Penn State, Marcus served his campus as a Resident Assistant, Student Government Assoc. (SGA) senator and Diversity Committee Chairman, Multi-Cultural Council Public Relations Chairman and President of the Assoc. of Black Collegians. Recently, Marcus received his Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Human Resources with the University of Phoenix.

He is employed with the Erie County Public Library (ECPL); where serves as Outreach Services Manager. In his role at ECPL, Marcus' focus is promoting the tools and resources the library offers to enhance the lives of all community members. In addition, he oversees the Bookmobile which provides library services to patrons in throughout Erie County. Through his work at the John F. Kennedy Center, Marcus provided education against substance abuse, as well as safe and recreational alternatives to the use of drugs and alcohol. In all that Marcus seeks to do, his ultimate goal is to spread inspiration, believing that no one’s circumstances are define who they can become.


Why are you running to be Erie City Council?

I believe that Erie is a city of great potential and promise. My experiences in the community have enhanced my perspective and passion for our city. I am committed to creating positive change in Erie by devoting my voice to ensure that inclusion is a reality for all who call Erie home.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

1.Revitalization throughout the city
2. Affordable housing
3. Ensuring that everyone's perspective is included in decision making


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

Access to a good education is vital to Erie's growth and collective success. First, I would advocate regional, state, and federal funding sources to ensure that education is a fundamental priority on all levels. Secondly, I realize traditional four-year collegiate experiences do not work (are not options) for everyone. I support creating pipelines for students into vocational and entrepreneurship training opportunities.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

By using my voice and my vote, I will advocate for relief funding that will guarantee sustainable solutions to the public health needs of Erie residents. I will support the development of private/public partnerships to create a strong network of efficient public health services.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

I support ERCGP's encouragement to continue to incentivize local hirings. I agree with the stance your organization has taken in regards to small businesses being represented by boards within our community. As a policymaker, I would work with small business leaders to create solutions that would create finical stability for local government without over-taxing small businesses. Finally, I am a proponent for ear-marking unused relief funds for the future use of financial stability.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

The main priority would be to examine the city's budget to stabilize the deficit incurred during the 2020 pandemic. I would allocate funds to local small businesses that have suffered during the pandemic. I would also support distributing a percentage of funds to strengthen local after-school and educational summer programs that will help fill educational gaps for student learning which has been affected by the pandemic.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I support tools such Opportunity Zones and Tax Increment Finance. I believe they provide viable options for economic growth in the city. However, my focus would be expanding the aspects of these tools that would work in every corner of Erie. My stance through these measures would be to address inequity and search out opportunities to replicate revitalization in the neighborhoods and areas of the city that have been most affected by poverty. No neighborhood, small business, or entrepreneur should be ignored or overlooked.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Chuck Nelson
Erie City Council

Current Employer(s)
The Cross, Erie

About Chuck
Chuck is a graduate of Lindenwood University, has a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and will soon finish a Doctorate in Missional Leadership from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (where Mr. Rogers went!) with a dissertation focusing on creating a community that transcends class and race. In addition to his work in ministry, he has also served as an adjunct professor at Mercyhurst. The church he leads also hosts "Service Trips" in downtown Erie during spring break and summers. These trips provide the Erie community with thousands of hours of blight reduction, feeding those experiencing homelessness, and projects at different non-profits. He sits on the board of the Upper Room, represents the 3rd Ward Second District on the Democratic committee, sits on the advisory committee for Our West Bayfront, leads the Gateway Neighborhood Association, works with a team to lead Porchfest, and assists in coaching Erie Reapers wrestling at the MLK Center.


Why are you running to be Erie City Council?

To bring fresh ideas to City Hall.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Land Value Tax, which would result in lower taxes on residents, less blight, and more investment.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I will be a staunch advocate for education. I was raised in a household where my father was the principal of the largest school in the state and have almost completed my doctorate.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

My example of coordinating with Erie County Health Department, Rite Aid, and The Upper Room is an example of the priorities I hold in this advocacy.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

With a Land Value Tax, it was hugely successful after being implemented 25 years ago in Allentown and Harrisburg.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

There has been an underinvestment in community and economic development in the city for far too long, the city needs to prioritize these things and by working in partnership with business, should focus on technology infrastructure. Places like Longmont Colorado have used public access to higher speed internet to become the fastest growing city of our size.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

Land Value Tax would do much of this. It would stop punishing the maintenance of property and instead punish a lack of development, in the simplest terms. Investment Zones such as CRIZ or NIZ can be fought for in Harrisburg and a restructuring of our millage that doesn't reward disinvestment.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Jordan Lander
Lake City Borough, Mayoral Race

Current Employer(s)
Erie's Public Schools

About Jordan
For over ten years, Jordan Lander has been an urban educator and proud father of three. His work and projects range between education, computer science, and politics. While fulfilling his role as a science educator, he also enjoys being a musician, AI researcher, political consultant, digital marketer, and tutor. He is running for mayor of Lake City, PA.


Why are you running to be the mayor of Lake City?

I love my community and want to be a representative voice for my neighbors.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Protect the Community, Advocate for Citizens and Law Enforcement, and Promote Local Businesses.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I am an educator for both young students and adults seeking employment and their high school equivalency credentials. I see my students struggle when they cannot get proper training and education and I am happy when I connect them to community resources, workforce skills training, and job opportunities. Every day I am an advocate for workforce development inside and outside of my jobs as an educator.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

I would gather data on our community's current needs to access affordable healthcare, vaccinations, and PPE, including our workers and businesses, and advocate for them. It means working with community members, key stakeholders, experts related to public health, elected officials, and regional partners, authorities, boards, and commissions. A leader must articulate the vision and mission of their community. It would be key to get voices in one direction and set goals based on our data-driven decisions and needs.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

It would be important to assess our community's immediate needs including mental health, individuals, families, employees, and businesses. We then need to seek recovery guidance from business experts, find recovery resources, and available funding for assisting growth and development.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

See previous answers.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I favor requiring large development projects to seek funding from state sources to reflect the community where they are being built. This can, in part, be accomplished through training and hiring on the development and construction side, as well as with permanent jobs created by the finished project. I would fight for equitable hiring, project labor agreements, and Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs). I favor tax breaks when tied to CBA’s because I recognize that whenever private industry and developers are given the gift of a tax break, in return, citizens deserve living wage jobs and other tangible benefits.

Revitalization must involve the voices of the critical stakeholders of the community. I would encourage input from my constituents, labor, and community organizations via surveys, public meetings, and hearings. I will appoint or recommend local community members' appointments to relevant Authorities, Boards, and Commissions to gather data and expert knowledge, assess needs and opportunities for growth and push to meet our community's goals for revitalization.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Sydney Zimmermann
City of Erie, Mayoral Race

Current Employer(s)
Pennsylvania United

About Sydney
My name is Sydney Zimmermann. I am a 28-year-old woman, who was originally born in Dallas, TX. My family moved to Saginaw, MI when I was seven then to Erie when I was eleven. I graduated from Collegiate Academy in 2011 with honors. From there I went on to study History at Notre Dame De Namur in Belmont, CA.

I returned to Erie a year later, when I was 19, to continue my studies while working full time. Since then I have mainly lived on my own, working to support myself. At times, I worked as many as four jobs to make ends meet. These jobs were in a range of industries: clothing retail, the service industry, personal home care, the retail trade sector, and door-to-door sales on behalf of a clean energy company.

In 2018 I took employment with a grassroots organization, Pennsylvania United, as a canvasser for their Erie County branch. While employed with PA United I’ve been promoted three times, all the way to national canvass lead where I led my team on the first-ever candidate deep canvass – a time-consuming but effective process of listening to and speaking with voters, rather than talking at them. This skill of deeply listening to people will help to transform City Hall and Erie.

I currently work as a canvasser for the organization on their campaigns outside of Erie, so as to eliminate any perceived conflicts of interest. It is with this kind of transparency as well as action-oriented advocacy and community decision making that I will lead with as Mayor. I look forward to working with the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership to build stronger lines of communication between the community, City Hall, and local business owners.


Why are you running to be the mayor of the City of Erie?

I am running for office because too many of our current leaders work to support the status quo rather than work to bring change. Through my time as a canvasser I have learned of many obstacles facing our community members. Everyday people need a voice in this race for the issues that matter to them, to challenge that status quo. By being that challenger I hope to change the conversation and shine a spotlight on the needs of our community; especially the needs of those most vulnerable to the issues: poor people, black and brown folks, women, children, those in the LGBTQIA+ community, disabled folks and the elderly.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

My top three priorities that I hope to achieve are to: improve transparency at City Hall, bring more action-oriented advocacy to the Office of Mayor, and develop better systems for sustained community decision making in city government.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I would advocate for feedback from city residents on where they believe the Erie County Community College should be located and why. It is my opinion that if the city is good enough for the County Prison it is good enough for the Community College, but ultimately I believe that the community should have a say in its placement. I also believe that investments in K-12 and early learning were necessary before the pandemic, so they are definitely needed now to ensure the future success of our students in the workforce.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

I would advocate for better technological updates as well as better communication and partnership between the county and the city. I would also look to improve lines of communication between our small business and the city to report issues so that they can be solved quickly and to the benefit of our community.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

I would look to find creative solutions to the city's financial issues, such as a Land Value Tax so that the city's financial troubles could be worked on without putting more weight on small businesses.

Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

I would prioritize the needs of the community when looking at how to disseminate funds. This would mean speaking with community members to see what hardships they are currently facing and asking what they need. This is why relationships with both small businesses and organizations like the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership are so important.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

Yes, I am willing to make long-term investments in economic development. I think one great way of doing so is to use Community Benefits Agreements when making agreements for programs like L.E.R.T.A. This would ensure things like a certain percentage of local hires, a certain percentage of black and brown folks, a certain percentage of women hired, as well as requiring a wage that would be family-sustaining. I think that these tools can be used in such a way that benefits the community if we have a focus on ensuring that they are being used for the good of the community rather than for a wealthy few; CBA helps to ensure that.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Angela McNair
Erie County Council, District 4

Current Employer(s)
Jumpstart Early Learning Center

About Angela

I am a wife and mother of five, who holds a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Edinboro University and Masters in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. I am currently serving on the Erie School Board as a member and advocate for the staff and families from 2013-present. During this time, I initiated the diversity and inclusion committee leading to the diversity officer position, worked with the student assistance program, advocated for more support in regards to the sports program, and linked the district with the idea for the community school’s initiative. I serve as the community liaison and have been a voice in bridging the gap between the schools and the community. I have also been a key advocate for special needs students as I have twin girls who have autism that attend Erie’s Public Schools.

Currently, I am an entrepreneur and small business owner here in Erie County as I operate a Keystone Star 4 facility, Jumpstart Early Learning Center from 2015-present. I am also the owner of an up-and-coming event planning and décor company, Grand Central Events. I served as one of the commissioners on the first cohort of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs. In this position, I served as a direct advocate for Erie County to the Governor’s office. A community initiative that I currently lead is Juneteenth, as I serve as the coordinator of the official celebration in Erie.

In the past, I’ve hosted many community events and participated in activities to give back such as the Back To School Summer Jam that has provided thousands of backpacks to students across the county. I also host several “Pop Up” shops at my downtown location which offers space for small businesses to sell in a flea market style vendor event at no cost to them in order to provide an economic boost to their businesses.


Why are you running to be on Erie County Council?

Running for the county council will give an opportunity for me to be a voice for the community in the recovery and building process as we continue to move Erie County forward in a progressive manner. It will give an opportunity for advocacy in education, entrepreneurship, and help be a voice to bridge the gap of disparities in public health. I want to also assist in rebuilding our county's recovery process post-pandemic. the experience that I bring to the table in being an educator and small business owner as well as working through large budgets, would be an asset to the county council.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

My hopes are to continue moving Erie in a progressive manner. In order to do these things we must plan wisely and use funds in areas that will make our city strong and completive. I want to see small businesses thriving, more access to training through programs such as the community college, and increase access to public health resources.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

I have been an advocate for the community college since the idea came about. This is necessary for the increased needs for training that is required in today's workforce. The community college will also bring about opportunities for companies to bring their businesses here which provides more jobs and increased economic boosts. My goal would be to stay in constant motion and moving forward with this initiative to ensure that anyone who wants to increase their skill level and knowledge across Erie County can do so by attending the community college. With being on the school board I know the needs of the students and families. This gives me the experience in knowing how the county can assist in the recovery of the schools after the pandemic. I can be a voice as someone who has children from 5th grade to 12th grade that can provide insight on where we can step in as a county to support the needs of our educational system. I will be in constant talks with families as well as our school districts to keep the council connected in what supports that they need.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

I will advocate to ensure that all people have access to quality care, vaccinations and mental health services. I will advocate for accountability metrics to be developed to ensure improvements are made in quality. I will allocate for funding to be placed into foundational capabilities for healthcare programs and providers. I would encourage private partners to collaborate with public health needs to ensure the community has the support needed for preventative and ongoing care.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

As a small business owner who has felt the aftereffect of COVID-19, I am able to give a perspective of the supports needed. I would encourage the use of funding that is coming to our region to have a certain amount made available just to provide support to small businesses. With incentives and support both the local and state government could increase financial stability if we can get people back to work with livable wages.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

As a leader in the community, a priority would be to provide support to public health and access to quality healthcare for all. Supporting our educational system's recovery. Providing relief to small business owners. Enhancing our natural resources and building opportunities to create more jobs by bringing improvement to Erie County.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I am willing to place financial support in initiatives that will make our region more attractive and sustaining. I want to preserve and enhance the assets we already have and build upon them to grow our community in a more progressive way. I do believe that opportunity zones are useful and create a boost in revitalizing the county.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Tyler Titus
Erie County Executive

Current Employer(s)
Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation
Journeys
Self-Employed

About Tyler

I was born into poverty when my parents were teenagers. My grandfather was the president of the Steelworkers local and my grandmother was a union school teacher. My parents worked incredibly hard just to provide me and my 11 siblings with the bare necessities. Growing up in a rural area, I saw many around me struggle, often with drug addiction. I watched my foster siblings face unimaginable challenges, as my parents tried to meet the needs of kids who had been neglected their whole lives.

My outlook changed completely when I realized I was not alone—that so many others around me were experiencing similar pain. Seeing their pain motivated me. It made me unafraid to stand up, to take the heat, to fight for a better future. These are lessons I carried with me into adulthood. They are lessons that only deepened when I married Shraddha Prabhu, an Assistant Professor at Edinboro University, and became the parent of two phenomenal children. I want to be a part of creating a future that is safe for my children, and yours.

Over the past 15 years, through my work at the Erie County Office of Children and Youth, as a full-time therapist for youth in the foster system, and as the president of the Erie School Board, I developed a nuanced understanding of how intergenerational poverty, neglect, abuse, and violence impacts families and communities. As a therapist in a residential facility, I worked every day with young men who the system had tossed aside—who had no one in their corners. That’s why I became an advocate at the state level for ensuring these kids had someone to lean on. Working as a mental health professional, and specifically with those experiencing suicidality, has exposed me to how severely broken our healthcare system is. I believe deeply in quality healthcare for all, an economy that puts working families first, and an education system that gives every child a chance.

Finally, as a small business owner, I know the challenges of building a successful future in Erie County. As a former county employee, I know the gaps and inefficiencies in the system. We deserve an Erie County that is healthy, safe, and equitable—where everyone has a chance at success. I’m ready to get to work so that we have an Erie County that we can be proud of.


Why are you running to be Erie County Executive?

Growing up poor in a rural area, I saw firsthand the failures of a system that leaves so many behind—that left me and my family behind. Seeing the pain of those around me motivated me to dedicate my life to fighting for a better future for all of us. Over the past 15 years, through my work at the Erie County Office of Children and Youth, as a full-time therapist for youth in the foster system, and as the president of the Erie School Board, I’ve worked toward an Erie that is healthy, safe, and equitable. I’m running for office because I’m ready to bring that vision to county government. I envision a government that is connected to and representative of the people it serves, regardless of who they are, where they're from, or what they have. I have seen up close that in order to have a successful and prosperous economy, we need a healthcare and education system that puts people first. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work to build an Erie County where no one is left behind.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

My top three priorities are healthcare for all, economic justice, and a quality education for every child.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

For the past four years, I’ve worked at local, state, and national levels to address inequities in public education, and to hold elected officials accountable to ensure all students have access to quality education. As the president of the Erie School Board, this has been central to my work and would be a significant focus of my administration. In Erie County, we need to invest in our education system—both traditional K-12, but also in trades education and apprenticeship programs that actually meet the needs of local employers.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

As a mental health professional, I see every day how life-changing access to quality care can be. No one should have to go into debt to receive the care they need. Our healthcare system is fundamentally broken—to the point where you can determine life expectancy based on the zip code where someone lives. But when a county is healthy, people are able to build living fulfilling lives. It affects their family, their friends, and our entire community. Healthy community members are connected to each other, able to support each other, and reinvest in the community around them.

As county executive, I will be deeply committed to making this a reality by investing in a community health model. This means embedding healthcare professionals within the communities they serve—including with health clinics in schools and satellite offices in rural parts of the county. I will fight for meaningful public-private partnerships that bring quality healthcare options here in Erie County, so that no one has to leave for Pittsburgh, Buffalo, or Cleveland to receive the care they need.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

As a small business owner myself, I completely share the stance of the ERCGP that tax burdens should never fall disproportionately onto small businesses. We have major needs in this county—for changes that cost significant amounts of money—but small businesses should always be viewed as a partner in that change, not its funders. When proper investments are made, and the ultra-wealthy and large corporations are made to pay their fair share, we can afford to make the changes we need while including, attracting, and uplifting local businesses.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

As Kathy Dahlkemper has said, this is our “moonshot moment.” We have an extraordinary opportunity to use this money to transform the future of Erie County. I believe we should focus on utilizing the funding to address the areas the budget was not able to address. A few of the high-priority areas include: infrastructure around broadband internet throughout the county, investing in creating good-paying jobs through renewable energy development, and instituting a community health model that ensures that those who serve our communities know and understand them.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

I am willing to make long term investments that create equitable opportunities for all Erie County residents, especially those who have not had the same access to resources in the past. We need to invest in renewable energies and green infrastructure in order to keep our water, air, and land safe for our residents and future generations. I do support Opportunity Zones and Tax Increment Finances when they are equitable and not implemented in a way that encourages gentrification.

Wednesday April 21, 2021 

Meet the Candidates is an annual education series to connect the business community to citizens seeking public office in Erie County. Candidates were invited to complete a brief questionnaire; answers appear as provided by the candidate. The views expressed below are not those of the Erie Regional Chamber. We invite you to get to know the candidates and mark your calendars to vote in Pennsylvania's Primary Election on Tuesday, May 18th. 


Meet the Candidate: Shawn Wroblewski
Erie County Executive

Current Employer(s)
Perry Hi-Way Hose Company
East County EMS
Butler County Community College

About Shawn
I have lived in Erie my whole life. I started serving the community in 1986 as a volunteer firefighter and quickly found a passion for helping people. I have been working as a paramedic since 1994 when I started at EmergyCare eventually, I left EmergyCare to pursue a Management position with Perry Hi-way Hose Company. Currently, I am Working on a Ph.D. in public service leadership with a concentration on emergency management, working part-time at Perry Hi-Way and East County EMS. I live in the City of Erie with my wife, Jessica.


Why did you want to run for Erie County Council?


I want to serve the people of Erie County.


What are your top three priorities you wish to work on if elected?

Recovery of family business and communities from Covid 19, Public Safety system, Address the inequalities of residents in Erie County.


How would you be an advocate for key education initiatives such as the Erie County Community College, K-12 education, and early education as they relate to workforce development?

As an academic, I am aware of the importance of education. We have four universities/colleges already promoting critical thinking and advanced degrees. Erie needs more education for skilled trades such as welding, nursing, and machinists. We need to work on keeping the current and future students interested in learning. With all the distractions and decrease in after-school activities, I have seen firsthand how uninterested in learning that most current students are. I want to be a positive force for change in this and help the students focus on the future early in their primary education and develop resources for their learning to make informed decisions about their future career and how they navigate life and obstacles to obtain their dreams.


How will you work to advocate for the modernization of public health infrastructure and encourage public/private partnerships to address deficiencies in our public health system? 

My life has been about emergency service, specifically the pre-hospital field. Many different programs promote increased public health and healthcare infrastructure. However, obstacles have been met by services promoting change by various laws and legal issues. I want to actively work with the local hospitals and agencies to make Erie a model of change for our community's health care infrastructure. I plan to advocate at a state level for the tools and legislation needed to assist our agencies in positive change. I plan on using the resources of primary schools and education sources to address the needed information and conversations to promote a positive change within the Erie Community.


According to TrackTheRecovery.org, Erie County is estimated to have lost over 28% of small businesses. How would you work to encourage financial stability within local and state governments without overburdening the small business community?

According to most researchers, the loss of business during the recovery phase of any major incident will worsen. One of the biggest problems is no planning for unforeseen problems. The theory has always been there's less than a one percent chance of that happening, so why should I worry. This pandemic is my area of specialty. We can not do much about the closed businesses, but we may be ready to discuss the need to plan for unforeseen problems in the future. Throwing money at the problem will not solve it until we sit down and discuss the plan for moving forward. We need to tighten our wallets and focus on the areas that will promote growth and increased development, delay the things that will cost money, and expend resources we could put towards other areas of growth.


Our community is expecting a total of $225 million or more in American Recovery Plan funds.  As a community leader, how would you prioritize this funding?

Now is the time we need to take a critical and educated look at what the money can be utilized for and how we can best utilize these funds to invest in Erie County. First, we must stabilize the local government and ensure that we will be able to move forward safely. Secondly, we need to prioritize our responses that we do not impact and new taxes upon our communities or the citizens. Reduce needless spending and focus our efforts on infrastructure and regrowth without impacting our already fragile impoverished communities. We need to match jobs with people and promote self-growth with community investment projects to rebuild and develop a stronger workforce committed to growth.


Pittsburgh has seen success with tools such as Tax Increment Finance and Transit Revitalization Investment District to spur their City’s revitalization.  Are you willing to make long-term investments in economic development?

There has been a lot of success with many different revitalization programs not only in Pennsylvania but also around the country. Erie is very different than Pittsburgh. We must look at what programs have worked with similar communities to Erie. These communities must be as economically and culturally diverse as Erie is for an accurate comparison. Erie must commit to a long-term plan to grow all of Erie County's assets from industry to tourism. We need to capitalize on our history, move forward with past successes, and develop our short-term and long-term goals that everyone in the community can get behind. More importantly, we need to continue developing our infrastructure and programs for Erie County's future long after any county official or public servant is out of office. We, as a community, need to work together to develop a plan for tourism, manufacturing that incorporates all aspects and begins a new direction for the future that will secure Erie County's position for the future. As I do not have an ingrained knowledge of all Erie County's current business and infrastructure, I will be seeking the counsel of the past leaders and business groups to ensure the best course of action for the county's future.

latest news

Edinboro University Earns Top 20 Ranking for Early Childhood Program
March 29, 2021
Early childhood teachers play an important role in fostering academic, emotional, social and motor skills in young children. Degrees from outstanding ...
Erie Federal Credit Union Welcomes New Business Lender
March 11, 2021
Erie Federal Credit Union (Erie FCU) is pleased to announce the addition of Mark Paradise as Business Lender.
Erie Community Foundation Announces Two New Board of Trustees Members
February 8, 2021
The Erie Community Foundation announces two new leaders to the Board of Trustees New in 2021: Rev. Don Baxter, Jr., M.D. and Deborah W. Murphy, CFP&re...