On Nov. 7, Erie voters will go to the polls to vote in important races. In the City of Erie, a new mayor will be chosen for the first time in 12 years. Throughout Erie County, residents will vote for Erie County Executive. The Merciad asked the candidates for both offices to respond to questions about their campaigns. Neither candidate for Erie mayor — Democrat Joe Schember or Republican John Persinger — responded. Below are the responses from the Erie County Executive candidates — Democratic incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper and Republican challenger Art Oligeri.
Photo from candidate’s Facebook page
Career Background: Former U.S. Congresswoman; co-operated business (Dahlkemper Landscape Architects & Contractors) with husband; dietitian.
Community Involvement: Founded and operated Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park in Erie. Serves
on national opioid task force and governor’s Local Government Advisory Committee.
How do you see the office of the county executive affecting Mercyhurst students’ lives? County government, in general, provides a variety of services that affect your everyday life. If you call 911, for example, that goes to a county dispatcher. Other county services include health and human service functions. But what might most affect you, as students, is the county executive’s leadership in providing a broader vision for the future of Erie County. That includes creating a vibrant community that young people want to live in. We work to create and maintain green spaces, to improve transportation, to enhance culture and to support a thriving economy.
Many Mercyhurst students are from outside of Erie. What would you do to make them want to stay here after graduation? Whether you’ve come to Erie County to attend Mercyhurst or have been born and raised here, we want you to stay here, work here, raise your own family here. The first thing we must do is make sure that we have plenty of businesses offering good-paying jobs to attract recent college graduates. And we also have to make sure that our community is one that you enjoy. We think of things like affordability and livability, as well as culture and entertainment. Ultimately, we work every day to make Erie County a place where you will want to work, live, play and stay.
What is your take on your party’s national politics, and how does that affect this race? To me, one of the best parts of working in government at the local level is that you don’t have the vicious partisanship that you see at the state and federal levels. For the most part, we work together, Democrats and Republicans, to do what needs to be done to serve the people of Erie County. However, it is important to realize that federal policies have a real impact on the county. This includes things like funding for the EPA, which keeps Lake Erie healthy or for community grants that provide valuable services. These funds are now at risk.
Photo from candidate’s Facebook page
ARTHUR OLIGERI III
Career Background: Graduated in 1974 with a B.A. in Business from Mercyhurst College; retail shoe business since 1968; opened store in 1985. Community Involvement: President of West Erie Plaza Merchants Association; President of St. George Parish Council; School Board; Chair Couple for various church events; soccer coach; Chairman of National Barber Institute Shillelagh Event Committee.
How do you see the office of the county executive affecting Mercyhurst students’ lives? The Erie County executive must continue to see the County grow economically, educationally and socially. A strong and healthy community enhances the college experience. This allows Mercyhurst students not only (to) receive a great education, but also have career opportunities upon graduation. (It) would also include a safe environment, cultural choices, social service options (and) a great social life. The low cost of living is certainly appreciated by all college students. The county executive is a partner in all aspects of community life.
Many Mercyhurst students are from outside of Erie. What would you do to make them want to stay here after graduation? After four years at the university, (students) will find what a great place Erie is to live, work and raise a family. As Erie is reinventing itself, graduating students will see career opportunities in exciting areas and new fields. We have become a strong education center including the largest medical school in the country and post-graduate options. I would certainly talk to and help in any way in the process as I have done in the past in my role during the annual career night. That role certainly would be expanded when elected. My heart is at Mercyhurst and I would do all I can for Mercyhurst grads.
What is your take on your party’s national politics, and how does that affect this race? I am a strong advocate of bringing jobs back to America. Let’s focus on more jobs and less government. At all levels of government, we need to focus on job creation, not in the public sector but the private sector. We need to make our county and state more business friendly. We need to duplicate the efforts of the national level on the state and local level. We need to work harder, and achieve results to get more Americans working.