The prospect of Erie electing its first Republican mayor in more than a half a century is getting national attention.
An editorial published in the New York Post proclaims “This die-Hard Democratic City is about to turn Republican.” It’s alluding to the race between Erie’s mayoral candidates, Democrat Joe Schember and Republican John Persinger.
Verel Salmon, chairman of the Erie County Republican Party, said Persinger can bridge the party divide.
“He’s not concerned about party affiliation,” he said. “He just wants to do the job. He wants to do the work for the people of Erie.”
Bill Cole, chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, remains confident about Schember.
“We have two mayoral candidates. We have an excellent candidate, of course, in the Democratic candidate, and he’s experienced,” he said. “And we expect him to help lead our northwest Pennsylvania to a new beginning.”
Salmon said, “Both of them are good, but Persinger is an exceptional. You can’t help but seeing him and thinking of John F. Kennedy.”
If Persinger were to win, it would be the first time a Republican has held the office since Mayor Charles Williamson was elected in 1961. The campaigns of both Persinger and Schember are door-knocking and using social media as part of their strategies.
Democrats acknowledge that they cannot take the election for granted.
“Everyone has to get out and work really hard to get that vote out and to get the votes that they need to win the election,” said Cole. “So, this is pretty much part of the course as far as the mayor’s election is concerned.”
The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 10. The municipal election is Nov. 7.