Erie County executive candidates Tyler Titus and Brenton Davis debate
See responses from Erie County executive candidates Brenton Davis and Tyler Titus after their debate at the Erie Art Museum.
Greg Wohlford, Erie Times-News
Erie County’s first executive debate on Wednesday offered two competing and broad views of the economy. But I missed details – and sparring.
Hosted by the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, and held at its annual political forum at the Erie Art Museum, the debate featured the first one-on-one meeting of Democrat Tyler Titus and Republican Brenton Davis.
The hour-long event, which was neither televised nor broadcast and broadcast only to a registered group of around 70 people, largely focused on the business climate in Erie County and how best to stimulate economic growth and development.
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Amy bridger, Senior Director of Corporate Strategy and External Engagement at Penn State Behrend, moderated the discussion. Nine questions were asked.
Here are some key points to remember.
Each candidate focused on different problems
Titus has often touted public health and social services as playing a “complex role” in economic development.
“If the community is not healthy, the economy cannot thrive,” said Titus, 37.
Noting that the bulk of the county’s $ 400 million annual budget goes to social services, Titus said their personal and professional experience, ranging from growing up with foster siblings to providing therapy for young people. at risk, gave them a unique insight into community health and its “in tandem” with upward mobility.
“The health of the community (comes under) the supervision of the county executive and we have to be someone who understands the different social service departments,” Titus said.
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Davis, a veteran and small business owner, said infrastructure and workforce development were the backbone of his economic plan, and highlighted investments in broadband internet and career development programs.
Using the acronym NICE, which stands for “No New Taxes or Fees; Innovation and infrastructure; Collaboration ; and Education, ”Davis spoke of an economy where the“ private sector leads the way, ”where tax incentive programs attract new businesses and where Erie County works with regional partners on common economic goals.
“The government cannot dictate what our businesses need,” said Davis, 38. “The best environment we can possibly create is an entrepreneurial and regional economy.”
Davis Flip Flops on Erie County Community College
Davis said the Erie County Community College was “indispensable,” despite launching an online campaign in 2019 to thwart its creation.
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“I fully support the community college with the hiring of Dr. (Chris) Gray,” said Davis, referring to the college president. “I believe where he came from and the programs he implemented can really be transformational.”
Davis dismissed his past opposition by insisting that a “true leader never sets foot in stone” but has the ability to move with “changing tides and currents”.
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Titus, who has long voiced support for the community college, cited an earlier public remark by Davis in which he said “I will fund this madness in 2022”.
Titus questioned the seriousness of Davis’ new support and said residents should be made clear who they are voting for and what is at stake.
Titus: No tax promises. Davis: Firmly against
Initially dodging a question about the prospect of a 0.5 cent sales tax, Titus, in his closing statement, said he did not have a “crystal ball” and could not ” make a general promise on taxes “.
“What I can promise is to be a strong steward, who is dedicated to ensuring that there is no misuse of the money that comes in, that it is effective, efficient. and that we are doing all we can to educate and bring members of our community where they need me to be able to re-enter the workforce, ”said Titus.
Davis did not promise any new taxes or fees for his first term.
“We don’t have a revenue problem,” he said. “You look at the influx of money that comes from the federal government, the money from the US bailout. We have a full moon moment here. We do not need a tax increase. “
Overlapping talking points
The candidates did not engage in tense exchanges or confrontations. Indeed, the 30-second debate rebuttal rule was only used once by Davis when he addressed his past opposition in community college.
Both candidates also rarely used their total 90-second response time and often went back to short talking points rather than policy details.
In doing so, both candidates appeared to share certain goals, including a focus on educational and career paths, investing in public infrastructure, attracting sustainable businesses through tax incentives, and using a diverse team of experts to guide their decision making.
“The county executive, with the help of the county council, can lay the groundwork to ensure that we have access to quality education to develop the workforce and help businesses that are already there – this is where we will get the most bang for our buck, ”Titus said.
Davis added, “When we invest money, just like we do in the private sector, we have to ask ourselves, is (the investment) having an impact? Is it transformational? Is it generational? If he doesn’t meet those criteria, we need to go back to the drawing board. “
Next Erie County Executive Debate
- Where: JET24 studio in Erie. The debate will be televised. Also broadcast live on yourerie.com.
- When: Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.
- Presence: No presence in person. Voters can participate by submitting questions through the JET / FOX / YourErie Facebook page the evening of the debate