Voters Guide

Candidates for Erie County Executive, Erie County Council, Erie City Mayor, and Erie City Council were asked about their positions on GLBT issues. Their responses appear below. Names are linked to campign web sites where appropriate.

This was the question asked for all races:

What would you like our readers to know about you related to LGBT issues?

County Executive

Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Incumbent)

I am a firm believer that the rights afforded us as Americans must be protected and equal for all citizens. This has not been the case for much of our country's history and one group that has experienced this inequity is the LGBT community. I have been proud to support some of the significant changes that have occurred to end this discrimination. While a member of the U.S. Congress, I voted to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" legislation. Although my jurisdiction over these issues is limited to the internal operations of county government, as County Executive I have made it a priority that my administration ensures equal benefits for employees, including those who are part of the LGBT community. I have supported efforts to legalize same sex marriage in Pennsylvania and advocated for nondiscrimination policies broadly. As the mother of a gay man, I know first hand the discrimination he has experienced and continue to advocate for protections for LGBT individuals to end discriminatory practices. As the leader of Erie County, I believe it is important to stand with the LGBT community and continue to fight back against stigma and discrimination.


Not Responding: Art Oligeri (R)


Kathy Fatica (D-Incumbent)

I am proud to live in a county that protects the rights of individuals regardless of sexual orientation.

I also support anti-bullying legislation.


Robert Yates (R)

I am entirely opposed to discrimination of any kind in public policy against gender or sexuality, and favor as little government regulation and/ or intrusion into individual rights and private lives as possible.

I am not opposed to gay marriage; the Supreme Court ruled on the issue in 2015, although some may have religious objections. As a Christian, I personally believe in kindness and respect to all people, as well as compassion and acceptance. I prefer all individuals be able to live their lives as they wish and be happy, as long as they are law-abiding and do not incite conflict. If elected, I intend to defend the rights of privacy, as well as the tenets of equality and justice.



Andre Horton (D-Incumbent)

I'd like your readers to know that I 've supported the LGBT Community long before I became interested in running for office. I advocate for good legislation to insure that the LGBT community is treated with the same respect and dignity and are provided with the same rights and protections as every other demographic of persons that are provided under the Law.




Paul Hirsch (R)

The LGBT community is made up of entrepreneurs, artists, business leaders and professionals with whom my message of economic growth, low taxes and responsible government will resonate. I believe that the climate of Erie County should foster economic progress and fiscal control that benefits all residents. All citizens should be treated as equals.


Not Responding: Carl Anderson (D)



Mary Jo Campbell (D)

The LGBT community deserves all the rights and responsibilities that have been granted to everyone under the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is written for all United States citizens. The LGBT community is an integral part of our society. As president of the Northwest PA Chapter of the ACLU, I firmly support LGBT rights and responsibilities.


Scott Rastetter (R)

LGBT issues are Human rights issues. Discrimination and prejudice should have no support, defense or justification in our United States.


Erie City Mayor

Joe Schember (D)

It's no secret in Erie that I am Christian. I have attended Sacred Heart Church since childhood. My faith teaches me not to judge others or discriminate.

What people in Erie may not know is that my son is gay. Several years ago my son, Joe, and daughter, Jaime, sat down with my wife, Rhonda, and me in our family room. Joe told us that he was gay.

My immediate response was: "Joe, you are our son and we love you." My son is a good man, works hard at his job, was an excellent student in school, played on a championship tennis team, helps take care of his disabled twin sister while volunteering at the Barber Center for 15+ years... and he is gay. I'm proud to call him my son.

My point is this: I support the hard-working taxpayers of Erie. Period. Sexual orientation doesn't impact that. I believe in the diverse people of Erie. My job as mayor will be to improve the quality of life for every Erie-ite. I'll work to reduce crime for everyone. Increase the number of good jobs for everyone. Better the education system for everyone's kids.

As mayor, I promise to support, interact with, and learn from Erie residents. If there are issues you want me to know about in the LGBTQ community, come have lunch with me at City Hall. Let's talk about what we can do. Because I believe that together, we will transform Erie and Build Opportunity for All.


John Persinger (R)

The Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. As mayor, I will work to ensure that Erie residents are afforded equal protection as set forth in the Constitution. And I will work to prevent discrimination throughout Erie.

On a personal note, I will ensure that City Hall reflects the great diversity of Erie. Having lived and worked from Boston to Washington, D.C., to Australia, I understand the importance of incorporating diverse opinions, perspectives, and individuals into organizations. For too long, many of the decisions made in Erie have been by a good old boys network. If we are to thrive as a community going forward, that can no longer happen. I will work to incorporate more diversity into the decision-making processes in this town, whether that is within City Hall or on the Boards of governmental authorities or elsewhere.

Thank you for your consideration.


Erie City Council

Liz Allen (D)

I am proud that Erie County's anti-discrimination ordinance includes sexual orientation. I support marriage equality. I am alarmed when the human rights of LGBTQ people are trampled. I worry that education to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS is no longer in the news. My heart breaks when young LGBTQ people are tormented. I oppose "bathroom bills."

I asked a 30-something gay man, the son of my late high school friend, what issues concern him. He said he just wants to "know that people are on my side." I'm on his side. I'm with the grade-school friend who refuses to come home for reunions because he was bullied. I'm with my Villa classmates who are proudly out. I'm with my college friend, feminist theologian Mary Hunt, who co-founded the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual. I'm with Erie people who lost partners before marriage equality; they tell me my columns helped them with their grief. I'm with my conservative friend who said after his daughter married her partner: "Nobody wants their child to be alone."

I think about my dad's Prep classmate, who visited us every week with his divorced mother. A bigot from Texas, she didn't understand why her handsome son, with the fancy car and the lucrative job, never married. Dad befriended the guy because he had been bullied in high school. But our family's welcome wasn't enough. This man, an alcoholic, died of AIDS, alone.

We must never return to those days.


Casimir J Kaz Kwitowski (D-Incumbent)

As an elected representative of the City of Erie for over 20 years, it has been my duty to safeguard the rights of all citizens. I take the oath of my office very seriously. Today many states and municipalities are passing laws threatening the rights and freedoms of many of its citizens. One such group that is under fire is the LGBT community. The current political climate of this country is very unsettling. This country was built on diversity and tolerance, and not intolerance. I proudly served with many members of the LGBT community as a member of the armed services. Their sacrifice and service guaranteed our freedom. Yet their freedoms are being threatened. Even though, many of the issues are on a state and national level. I as an elected official give you my promise, that I will never vote to deny anyone their freedoms and will use my office to protest any such abuses. In this great country we need to celebrate our diversity, not stifle or prevent it. All citizens are guaranteed this under our constitution.


Kathleen Schaaf (D)

Hello My name is Kathleen Schaaf and I am running for Erie City Council. I have lived in Erie all my 56 years of life and have been in the education field for 35 years at different capacities at St James School. I was brought up that all people need to be treated fairly. I personally have friends/family who are gay/lesbian and transgender. I have raised my daughters the same way, we are all God's children on this planet walking our life's journey. We should not be divided by our religion, race, sexual orientation, political affiliations, ethnic origin, finances, or location where we maybe currently living. Immigrants and all people of Erie, no matter their circumstances need to feel safe when walking down a street or relaxing in their home. Crime and violence are present in so many areas of the city and needs to be curtailed. Drugs break up so many families regardless of where people live or who they maybe. These issues have no political boundaries, they effect us all and we can not win this war against them unless we put our differences aside and make a pledge to work together for the good of each and every one of us and the good or our fair city. I love Erie, I am a compassionate and empathetic person. I believe that I can make a difference to help the people of Erie have a good quality of life for many years to come. it is vital that we do not sit back but embrace the changes that may come to revitalize our Erie, our home! We are all people who will benefit if we have a safe, educationally sound, pollution free, drug fee, peaceful community. It may sound like a hard road ahead of us but we can do it one baby step at a time, one person stepping out of their comfort zone at a time, each person being open minded at a time to share, tell and listen to each other share our stories. We all have talents to bring on our safe Erie journey, so that future generations will call Erie their SAFE HOME as well! Thank you for the consideration of voting me into office this November. Kathleen Schaaf

Dan Nick (R)

I believe all people should be guaranteed equal rights including the legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage. A marriage is between two people, regardless of sexual orientation, who share a bond of love and admiration for one another. Diversity is the foundation of our country. People have the right to exist and be safe without prejudice. I stand with and support the efforts of the LGBTQ community.


Not Responding: Jim Winarski (D)


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