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: 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, 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.

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