This article was originally published by Kevin Flowers on GoErie.com on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016.
First-term Erie County Councilman Jay Breneman is making it official: he will seek the Democratic nomination for Erie mayor in 2017.
Breneman, 33, confirmed to the Erie Times-News on Wednesday that he will formally announce his candidacy for mayor on Nov. 11 at Wayne Park, near East Sixth Street and East Avenue.
First elected to Erie County Council in 2013, Breneman is the first Democrat to formally announce his candidacy for the city's top job. However, several local Democrats are expected to seek their party's nomination in the May 16 primary.
Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott, first elected in 2005, cannot run again because of the city’s three-term limit. That means that city of Erie voters will elect a new mayor in 2017 for the first time in 12 years.
And when you factor in Erie’s more than 2-1 Democratic voter registration edge within city limits, the May 16 Democratic primary winner will be a heavy favorite in the November 2017 election to succeed Sinnott and become Erie’s 48th mayor.
No Republican has been elected mayor of Erie since Charles Williamson in 1961. The mayor’s salary is $95,000 annually.
The Erie Times-News reported Oct. 9 that five Democrats are exploring a run for mayor in 2017, including Breneman. The others are current Erie City Council President Bob E. Merski; former City Councilwoman Rubye Jenkins-Husband; Lisa Austin, an Edinboro University of Pennsylvania professor; and Adrian Ewing, a former City Council candidate.
Further, the newspaper reported, it is widely speculated in local political circles that at least three other Democrats, City Council members David Brennan and Curtis Jones Jr. and a former councilman, Joe Schember, might also seek the city’s top job.
In a previous interview, Breneman said that "I have an exploratory committee and I’m actively engaging and listening to people across the city of Erie about the future of our city. The issues that affect our community need to be addressed on the front lawns and at the kitchen tables of the people of Erie.”
In August Breneman launched what he calls a “listening tour:” visiting homes, businesses, parks and other locations in Erie to talk with residents about their concerns.