Mayoral Candidates Weigh in on Erie's Declining Population - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Mayoral Candidates Weigh in on Erie's Declining Population

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Erie is on a steady decline. The U.S. Census Bureau reporting Thursday from 2015 to 2016, Erie's population dropped by nearly 1,000 people. Before 2015, Erie had over 100,000 residents.

Both mayoral candidates, Republican John Persinger and Democrat Joe Schember said they weren't surprised to hear the numbers.

"We've balanced a steady decline for the past six years. People have been voting with their feet, to move outside of the city," said John Persinger.

"I also think that's kind of history. So we've got to look at what's going on and where we're going to go in the future," said Joe Schember.

Looking forward to the future, they each have an agenda to hopefully grow the population. Persinger focusing on the Erie School District.

"You ask anyone, anyone that lives outside of the city, 'why'd they move out?' and they'll give you two reasons: schools and taxes. The sad thing is, that's not new," said Persinger.

While Persinger's focus is on the Erie School District and working with the administration to improve the education, Schember believes the main focus should be on increasing jobs in the city.

"Whether it's poverty, blight, whatever you want to say is a problem, if we had these good family sustaining jobs, and people had hope and could see a future... Say, hey there's a good job here, I can raise a family, I think that's key," explained Schember.

Both candidates said this 100,000 mark is significant for a number of reasons all centered around state and federal funding. Erie's population peaked around 138,000 all the way back in 1960.

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