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