Meet the Candidate: Kim Clear
Millcreek Township Supervisor
Millcreek Township School District
Erie County Government (Current Erie County Council Member)
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.