Democratic and Republican party sources tell Erie News Now that the race for Erie mayor is very close.  If that proves true, it will defy conventional wisdom, that gives democratic candidates the edge, based on their party registration advantage.  Sources tell Erie news now, an internal democratic party poll shows this race is tight.  Democratic party chair Bill Cole says that means they must work for every vote. "With the polling going on, it hasn't been favorable to democrats, so we have to redouble our efforts to make sure that we get the results that we desire," Cole said.

Word that the race is close has both candidates out campaigning hard for every vote. Democrat Joe Schember worked on strategy with volunteers at his campaign headquarters Monday before heading out to knock on doors on the east side of Erie.  Schember told us, "Until I've seen hard numbers its hard to really comment on anything, but I can tell you I've been working hard for months, from the time I get up to the time I go to bed."    He added, "I can honestly say I worked forty years at PNC and I worked hard there, but I've never worked this hard in my life, we're taking nothing for granted."  

Republican John Persinger took his mobile headquarters to Elmwood Avenue on the west side of Erie, where he knocked on doors, distributed campaign literature, and found voters asking for yard signs.  He senses the closeness of the contest from his interactions as he goes door to door. "Yes we know, we've been out in the neighborhoods all day long every day with our mobile headquarters and we feel the momentum on the ground," Persinger said.

Both candidates are focused on so called "super voters" who have voted in recent elections, but they approach anyone out in the neighborhoods to shake a hand or start a conversation.  Schember says many voters voice the same concerns. "The biggest concern is the blight that's in our neighborhoods, and the declining property values, and the lack of good family sustaining jobs," he said.  The democrat is enjoying the face to face interaction. "I love doing it, because I'm meeting the people of Erie they're getting to know me and that's what I tell them as I go around, I'm doing that because I want people to know me, to know the kind of person I am, and to feel they can talk to me if I become mayor," Schember said.

Persinger believes the race will be decided on the issues, not based on party affiliation. "People are focused on the issues, the blight, the drug epidemic, the loss of jobs in industry and they want solutions,"  Persinger said.  "They see us with our mobile headquarters talking about plans to tackle these issues and they're excited.  They know that we're going to bring new energy and ideas to city hall, they're sick of the same old and they're ready for change."

Former Erie County Republican party chair Ann Grunewald, who once mounted a strong challenge against Mayor Lou Tullio, is hoping the time is right for a republican to win the seat, something that hasn't happened since 1961. "I don't think its going to be traditional anymore, I think after 60 years...I think that people are tired of the same old and I think we do have the right candidate, the right person with young, new ideas to turn Erie around," Grunewald said, adding. "We've got to do something to turn this city around."