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