Op-ed: Rennie for County Council
Former library director seeks your vote in May primaries
I never thought I would run for office.
Yet here I am — a retired library director, an active grandmother, and a proud Erie advocate — as a candidate for Erie County Council's 3rd District.
I might be new to politics, but I'm no stranger to Erie County government. I spent my career serving our citizens at the Erie County Public Library, so I am well-versed in the county's finances and budgets, departments, and services, successes and challenges. Most of all, I carry with me insight into what you, the people of Erie County, need and want from your government.
That knowledge is gleaned from thousands of conversations I've had with library patrons over the years and is informed by the community's response to projects I led during my time at the library — including the development of branch libraries in Edinboro and Fairview and the creation of Blasco Library's innovative Idea Lab.
As a librarian, and later as library director, I most valued the connections I made with the Erie County residents from all walks of life who made their way through our doors.
That experience shaped my idea of what county government should be, and those connections motivated me to run for County Council.
Libraries connect residents to ideas, information, and to each other — just as your county government should do.
Libraries offer a welcoming community space that is accessible to all residents — just as your county government should do.
And libraries spark ideas and inspire action — just as your county government, and your elected leaders, should and must do.
If we don't have optimism, energy, and engagement from our elected leaders, we will never achieve the great things we are capable of doing, or see the promising future that we are so close to reaching.
Erie County government has specific and important jobs to play in our community — things like human services, public safety, community development, public health and, of course, our libraries. But beyond those roles, we also need our county government to be a collaborative partner and an enthusiastic leader in some of these compelling and encouraging changes that are reshaping our community.
Building a robust economy and stronger communities is up to all of us, and we need our elected officials to be leading the way — by bringing fresh ideas, working together, and embracing our possibilities.
Our leaders must work to promote economic growth while ensuring that it benefits all residents. We need development that supports family-sustaining jobs and entices young people — like my adult children — to live and work here in Erie County.
We must seek creative solutions to our community's challenges, starting with forging those vital connections to elected leaders, to citizens, and to other resources. How can we make use of some of our existing assets — like our universities, our fellow neighborhoods, and our private and public partners — to be more efficient and effective?
And we must empower our citizens to help us achieve this promising future. We not only must ask for our residents' ideas and input, but we must give every one of them the opportunity to help us make our collective vision a reality.
We can't afford to wait. As a community, we are at a critical juncture. We are seeing investment and initiatives that offer an intriguing glimpse at our potential, but we must have broad participation from elected officials and the public to truly achieve success.
So it's clear that we can no longer follow the old way of doing business in Erie County. We can no longer play territorial games or start political turf wars. And we can no longer fear change or obstruct progress. The time for action, the time for change, is right now.
That's why I am asking for your vote on May 21.
I will work for that brighter tomorrow — not just for my children and grandchildren, but also for your children and grandchildren.
After all, we are all connected. We are all Erie. We are one community, and we deserve leaders who will work side by side with our citizens to build the best possible Erie County we can.