Impact of Incumbency on the County Executive Race - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Impact of Incumbency on the County Executive Race

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Can the challenger beat the incumbent for County Executive? Can the challenger beat the incumbent for County Executive?

If you think being the incumbent and a democrat makes Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper a "shoe-in" for re-election, she doesn't share your view. "In the county, when you take the entire county, the democratic registration edge is actually not that large," said Dahlkemper, "so I've never taken this position for granted, from day one I've said we've got a race, we're gonna run hard, I always run like I'm behind and we've been doing that."  Dahlkemper thinks the key to returning to her seat is in the voter turnout.  "But really it's about the voter turnout, getting people to understand that these races are important to the future of this county, they're important to them as individuals and we need people to understand that and come out and vote," the incumbent said. 

Challenger republican Art Oligeri ran for this office before, losing in the primary, but this time he's convinced he can win.  He says voters he meets going door to door are not happy with Dahlkemper's record. "I sense a lot of unhappiness out there, the voters are unhappy with the leadership today, they're unhappy with spending, they're unhappy with a lot of the things they see, unhappy with economic development---yes I can win," Oligeri said.  He added that his small business experience is just what voters are looking for. "That resonates very well with the voters, the fact that I'm not part of the current system,I represent change and it appears that's what voters want, change they're unhappy with the status quo."  

Kathy Dahlkemper is about to launch an advertising blitz to remind voters what she's accomplished in four years. It's the same message she takes door to door.  She knows new economic opportunities that are taking hold, have not reached some employment discouraged local families yet. "I'm telling them about all the great things that we've been able to achieve over these past four years and really about the momentum that's going forward and that we want to keep that momentum going," Dahlkemper said. "I'm very fearful if that momentum at all takes a hit, that this region will step backwards," she added.

Oligeri will be up with television ads soon too.  He believes his decades in small business as a shoe retailer will connect with voters looking for change.  "As a small businessman you require a unique skill set, you get good in a lot of areas and if you don't, you go out of business," Oligeri said, adding, "I've got 50 years of experience in the business world, I can do the job, I have the experience to do the job."  

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