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: 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.

  • meet the candidates
  • government affairs
  • city of erie mayor
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.

  • meet the candidates
  • government affairs
  • lake city borough
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.

  • meet the candidates
  • government affairs
  • erie city council
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.

  • meet the candidates
  • government affairs
  • erie city council
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.

  • meet the candidates
  • government affairs
  • erie county council

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