A Very Crowded Field to Run for Erie Mayor - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

A Very Crowded Field to Run for Erie Mayor

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A former Erie City Councilman tosses his hat in the ring for Erie mayor.
He's the sixth person to formally announce their candidacy.

The field of candidates is quickly becoming crowded, so Erie News Now wanted to take a closer look at how many people are expected to run, and the challenges it poses for candidates and voters.

It may not be an easy primary election day, this coming May. The chair of Erie's Democratic party says as many as 14 democrats are considering a run for mayor.

Joe Schember is the latest of five democrats officially announcing his candidacy for Erie mayor.

Erie City Councilman Bob Merski will announce his candidacy on Thursday.

Democrats Jay Breneman, Lisa Austin, Almi Clerkin and Rubye Jenkins-Husband have also formally announced they're running for Erie mayor.

Bill Cole, Chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, says in the coming weeks more democrats are expected to toss their hat in the ring. He's hearing as many as 14 people are interested in vying for the city's top job.

So, with a potential of 14 people on the primary ballot, all with promises to make Erie a better place to live, visit and work, voters will have a tough decision, "It's going to be quite a challenge, they're going to have an array of candidates to choose from and an array of candidates that are very good. So they're going to have to look at the candidates closely and make a decision," said Cole.

The last primary election with a large field of candidates was back in 2005, when six people vied for Erie mayor. Mayor Joe Sinnott won with 5,864 votes.

In that election there was a 45% voter turnout in the city.

So if half the voters turn out this year, and the pool of candidates is high, it could make for an interesting primary election, "You're talking about 20,000 voters, so when you start to divide that among 14 possible candidates, that gets down to a total of 3,000 voters is all a potential candidate has to get, and you may have a very surprising result," said Clerk of Elections, Doug Smith.

"The candidates are really going to have to get their people to the polls, they're going to have to campaign hard and get their own voters," said Cole. "They wont be able to rely on voter turnout it'll be candidate turnout this time," Cole continued.

Democrats will have the toughest decision with a potential of 14 candidates on the ballot. We're learning there could be at least three candidates on the Republican ballot as well, although only one person has officially announced.

Al Zimmer announced in December he intends to run for Erie mayor as a Republican.

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