Democrat Joe Schember has knocked on nearly 2,000 doors since the race for mayor of Erie began this spring. He calls this grassroots effort a top strategy for winning over voters.
"I want people to meet me," said Schember, 66. "I want them to know me, to have a chance to shake my hand, to talk to me a little bit."
Erie News Now caught up with Schember on the campaign trail at a home on E. 32nd St., the 86th the former PNC Bank executive visited on Thursday. Schember's campaign is pinpointing what are called "super-voters," someone who has voted in at least two of the last three elections, meaning they're more likely to vote in the general election on November 7.
"We go to every party, Democratic or Republican, independent," said Schember, who is also a former Erie City Councilman. "Some people are not affiliated with any party."
Schember's Republican opponent, John Persinger is taking a similar approach with super voters. But the 36-year-old attorney is also targeting another key demographic: younger voters.
"People see the energy, they see the activity and it gets them excited about the city," said Persinger. "That's what we want."
He says so far he's having success courting the younger crowd with events like Thursday's college registration night.
"We've even picked up a Green Party voter because they see we need change in the city," said Persinger, a Harvard graduate and former executive assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to Australia who also spent time in the White House as an aide to legal counsel during the George W. Bush years.
A Republican hasn't been elected the mayor of Erie since 1961. That's due in part to a two-to-one Democratic majority among registered voters in the city. Still, both sides say nothing is guaranteed.
"I'm not taking the election for granted," said Schember. "I think that's a big mistake. I'm working hard from the time I get up in the morning until the time I go to bed at night."
"We're online, we've been on people's doorsteps," said Persinger. "We've said we've got to be everywhere all the time."
Hear the candidates debate
Erie News Now is teaming up with the Erie Times-News for two debates later this month.
Persinger and Schember will face off October 25.
Erie County Executive candidates Kathy Dahlkemper and Art Oligeri will debate October 26.
Both debates runs from 7-8 p.m. at the East Middle School auditorium.
The doors open at 6:30p.m. for both debates. They are free, and open to the public.