A New Shared Vision for Erie

Categories:  News & Politics    Opinion
Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 at 11:45 AM
A New Shared Vision for Erie by Joe Schember

Jobs. Crime. Education. These are the three concerns I hear most frequently while meeting with Erie residents.

I am running for mayor because I can’t continue to watch as people leave Erie for better jobs. I can’t watch another story on the evening news about our children shooting each other or overdosing. I can’t watch our neighbors struggle to invest in their homes while houses, schools, and streets crumble around them. I can’t watch families move to the suburbs in search of a better education for their children.

I have to do something. I can, and I will.

Erie is at a crucial turning point. I am not a career politician. My private sector, executive-level leadership experience has prepared me to transform Erie into a thriving community with good family-sustaining jobs and welcoming neighborhoods. I’ll use my experience leading hundreds of employees to build a results-driven administration. My 40 years in finance and five years chairing the City Council Finance Committee have prepared me to manage the city’s $75 million budget while strategically implementing Erie Refocused.

Some of Erie’s largest employers have recently announced over a half-billion dollars in investments in our city. These announcements include Erie Insurance, UPMC Hamot, Scott Enterprises, St. Vincent Hospital, and Velocity Network. No city Erie’s size has this much private investment happening. And, there is more to come!

In order to maximize the impact of these investments, we need strong public/private partnerships. The result will be more jobs, an expanded tax base, a vibrant Bayfront, a thriving downtown, safe neighborhoods, and attractive housing options. It’s a lofty vision, but I’ve spent my career building relationships with local leaders who can make this happen. I’ve managed large scale transformations in the financial services industry. I know how to do this. We need to do it now.

The violence in our community is committed by individuals who see no hope or opportunity in their future. So, rivalries and retaliation take over. I’ll never forget the night I rode with an Erie police officer. We went from one crisis to another from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m. We never stopped once, even for coffee. It’s a side of Erie I had never seen. I witnessed firsthand the importance of police-community relations.

Our police are dedicated men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us every day. They do more than enforce the law. They have started innovative programs like the Police Athletic League to build relationships. We need to provide them with current technology, so they can spend more time patrolling and less time trying to get a fire hose of information into a garden hose. We also need innovative programs, like the one in East Cleveland, to expand the diversity of our force. As mayor, I will work closely with Erie’s police to keep you safe.

Bishop Dwayne Brock often says, “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” This motivates me to work with programs like Erie Together, Unified Erie, Bishop Brock’s Eagle’s Nest, Mel Witherspoon’s Summer Basketball League, and Rodney Cray’s Stay Focused for the Future to provide opportunity for our inner-city youth.

Erie’s kids deserve a leader who will speak up for them. Whether I am reading to kindergarteners at Lincoln Elementary School or teaching financial literacy to Strong Vincent juniors and seniors, I can see the potential and brightness in their eyes. They are Erie’s future. That’s why, as mayor, I must continue to be involved.

I will collaborate with the superintendent and school board to advocate for fair funding from the state. Long term, we must work together to expand the tax base for the benefit of our schools and city. As a leader, the mayor must be committed to helping residents acquire the education and skills they need to succeed.

I’ll be an active, visible leader, who seeks diverse viewpoints. Every decision will be based solely on what is best for the people of Erie. I will continue my lifelong commitment to serving you, because for me, being mayor isn’t about having power and prestige, it’s about empowering others.

Some people say that Erie is a “sinking ship.” I disagree. The people of Erie have too much grit and determination to be ruled out. I believe that through commitment, collaboration, and compassion, we can bring jobs and people back to the City of Erie. As Erie’s next mayor, I have the skills to make this happen.

Together, we will build opportunity for all.

Joe Schember served as an Erie City Councilman and Relationship Manager at PNC Bank. For more on Joe Schember’s mayoral candidacy, visit joeschember.com, email joe@joeschember.com, and visit his campaign headquarters at 1301 State Street.

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