Less than two months ago, we waited nervously as the mayoral candidates took the stage at the first forum sponsored by the Voices of Faith. A new voice in Erie politics was the first candidate called upon to spark the public conversation. A successful leader, faithful believer, master collaborator, and authentic communicator, she started with compliments, not just for the citizens assembled, but also for each of her competitors. It was an extraordinary launch which took others by surprise. But it didn’t surprise us, because we have been blessed to have Almi as the leading lady in our household.
And for the succeeding weeks, Almi’s powerful directness, candor, humor, and challenge has had a positive impact on the entire race. Strategies which worked before were abandoned; her phrases of “champion for Erie” and “better, brighter, bolder future” have been picked up and shared by others. Candidates have called the house to commend her positive, issue based campaign, and one candidate, after hearing her comments at a forum, said to her, “I am voting for you!” Even reporters from the news sources insisted that, in spite of editorial board endorsements, she’ll be getting their votes because she has impressed them.
She has impressed many with her passionate faith in the future of Erie, her no-nonsense approach to administration, her understanding of both the challenges of our city and the expert plans which, if financed and initiated, will make Erie the twenty-first century city we all know it can be. Police officers, firefighters, and city teachers have all come forward to say she has their vote, because they know that she gets things done.
She got things done from her first job in external affairs at then Mercyhurst College, to her supervision of dozens at Progressive Insurance, to her director of development at her alma mater Villa Maria Academy, to director of Youtheatre and then executive director of the Erie Playhouse. She has made payroll for dozens of full and part time employees, collaborative with hundreds of business and civic partners, inspired thousands of volunteers, and raised millions of dollars. Her business acumen and success in business management earned her the award of Gannon University’s Distinguished Alumna from the Dahlkemper College of Business and Engineering. No other candidate has the professional resume that she has built.
Through it all, she has been a wonderful wife and motivating mother, not to mention surpassing her fundraising goal in her responsibilities for the Playhouse, and successfully completing her course work in her health communication graduate studies. She amazes us, inspires us, challenges us, and wills the best for us.
Almi hopes to do the same for Erie as she has done in every other aspect of her life. We hope that Erie will make the bold, bright, and best choice for mayor: the lady of our house!
Shawn & Seamus Clerkin