My Vision for Erie

Categories:  News & Politics    Opinion
Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 at 2:15 PM
My Vision for Erie by Joe Schember
Nick Warren

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our city. Erie can become a city with good, family-sustaining jobs, safe and welcoming neighborhoods, and great schools.

The mayor will have a vital role in leading Erie’s transformation. As your next mayor, I will:

Be active, visible, and listen to the people. Within the first 100 days, I will conduct meetings in every neighborhood to gain input on our plans to implement Erie Refocused. I will take into account the concerns and dreams of Erie residents. For instance, how can we implement things like code enforcement to improve our neighborhoods without offending or burdening residents? I know I can’t make everyone happy. But I can listen to everyone and then make the decisions that are best for Erie.

Bring thousands of good, family-sustaining jobs to our city. The private sector will create these jobs. I will facilitate the process by being a champion for businesses. We will update City Hall technology, streamline and automate processes, modernize our website, and create a City Hall culture based on helping residents.

Think regionally. Silo mentality and turf protection will be things of the past. I will meet weekly with the county executive and build relationships with officials in surrounding municipalities. Once we’ve built trust, we can work together for the good of our constituents and shared region.

Plan Erie’s future. We have to stop living year-to-year. We must decide where we want to be five, 10, 15 years in the future, and then start working to get there. To accomplish this, I will do two things. First, I will assess staff roles/responsibilities to reorganize into a more efficient service delivery model and integrate three new positions: A full-time Planner, Grant Writer, and Business Development Officer. Second, I will run the city more like a business. For instance, we will set goals at the beginning of the year for each employee and evaluate their performance based on these mutually-agreed goals. I have promised positions to no one. If elected, I will choose a professional staff based on their ability to perform at the highest level.

If elected, I am committed to serving three terms to complete our transformation. With my experience, energy, and engagement skills, I will ensure that we work together as never before. The critical first step is creating the jobs. Here is the opportunity we have:

Erie Insurance is building a new $135 million headquarters that will result in 500 to 700 new jobs in downtown Erie.

UPMC Hamot and St. Vincent’s Hospitals have similar-sized projects underway.

Scott Enterprise’s ambitious East Bayfront development will begin next spring. Plans include a hotel, office space, housing, and restaurants.

The Erie County Convention Center Authority is aggressively seeking tax-paying development for the old GAF site. The Authority recently gave pub owners John Melody and Russ Stachewicz permission to move forward on their new restaurant near the Marriott. This is an important first step in attracting taxpaying businesses and residents to this site.

The Downtown Erie Innovation District is taking shape with the hiring of Karl H. Sanchack as its inaugural president and CEO. Mr. Sanchack has the experience and the skills to bring the jobs of the future to Erie.

The Erie Downtown Development Corporation (E|D|D|C), a collaborative effort, based on a successful project in Cincinnati’s Riverfront District, is conducting a national search for their executive director. Erie Refocused calls for investment of $600 million over 10 years to transform the city. The E|D|D|C is already raising $20 to $40 million for the first phase. We will leverage these funds for additional state and federal money.

Joel Deuterman is renovating the Rothrock Building to move Velocity.Net to downtown Erie.

These projects will bring thousands of new jobs to our city. Erie County’s Community College will ensure that local students of all ages have the training needed to fill these jobs. Ultimately, these efforts will turn our brain drain into brain gain.

As your next mayor, I am committed to making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It requires new thinking, willingness to change, and the ability for us to work together like we never have before. I will listen to you, and each of my decisions will be based on what is best for Erie. Everyone has a part to play, and it begins with your vote on November 7th. Join me, and together we will build opportunity, restore hope, and transform Erie.

Additional Information is available at joeschember.com, facebook.com/JosephVSchember, or by calling 814-923-4540.

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