By Kathleen Spinazzola
Millcreek Township resident Brenton Davis recently announced he will run for Erie County executive this year.
Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, who is currently serving her second, four-year term in office, said in December she would not seek re-election.
Davis is a Republican.
Davis, who ran against Dahlkemper in 2016, has been a very vocal public figure in Erie County, most recently in opposition to a new community college coming to the county, but also over how Erie County has been managed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and how local government should be bringing the economy back to its feet.
“The government cannot pick who the winners and losers are,” Davis said, with respect to closures imposed at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. “The small businesses are the ones hurting right now. Those in construction, restaurants and manufacturing need our help. The big guys are not endangered. Erie County can set the table by creating a business-friendly environment.”
Davis’ career includes nine years as an enlisted member of the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves. He is currently a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves where he has served for the last 12 years.
He is an Iraqi Freedom and Global War on Terrorism veteran and served three years overseas.
He plans to seek military retirement upon election.
Davis says he is a proud tradesman and entrepreneur with the moniker, Erie Working Man, before his name in public writings and his social media presence.
Creator of construction company B. Davis Enterprises LLC and several other companies, Davis graduated from Edinboro University with a degree in psychology. He is completing his master’s degree this spring from Penn State with a degree in community and economic development.
Davis says throughout his time working toward a master’s degree he’s done a great deal of research and looked at the data as policies and orders were given to shut down businesses during the pandemic.
His number one platform issue is economic recovery.
“We need someone with a spine to stand up to the governor,” Davis said. “Taxpayers need to be treated like adults. Government cannot tell people how to live their lives, or tell them they can’t work or put food on the table.
“Do there need to be protections? Yes. If someone feels they need to stay home to protect their family, then by all means. But that’s their decision. And there should be some type of protection for workers who feel that need.
“There’s data, case studies that I’ve looked at in other countries, and a lot of research that I’ve done. There has to be a happy medium. We can protect the economy, and we can protect our most vulnerable populations.”
Davis said he’s very concerned about children not being in school, suicide rates increasing, domestic violence and a host of other social issues being neglected because of stay-home orders.
“We’ve lost our checks and balances,” he said. “Children are not getting fed because they’re out of school. I had a librarian tell me she’s worried about her homeless. Think about that. Libraries are closed and they serve as a shelter for homeless people who need a place to get warm.”
Davis added there has to be a commonsense application throughout all this, and thinks that, while mask wearing helps somewhat and precautions can be taken, the reported numbers of coronavirus cases have also been inflated. He believes co-morbidity rates should also be reported.
Ultimately, Davis’ primary focus is on three things: economic recovery, creating an environment to promote business and life sustaining jobs; responsible management of county finances and committing to no tax increases in his first term; and tight management of the newly created Erie County Community College, that Davis fought against.
“I will not hinder the community college, but I will not give a single dollar of Erie County taxpayer money to prop up a community college, when we have other options,” Davis said. “I represent the taxpayers and their pocket. That’s who I’m looking out for.”
Davis added that some have accused him of being uncompromising and perhaps unable to work with other elected officials.
“If Erie County voters want someone to play the game, that’s not me,” he said. “I’m not here to play the game. I’m here to change the game.
“Party politics at the local level is not relevant. It’s not about the election. It’s about doing the work.”