Gannon alumna takes on candidacy for mayor


Almi Clerkin wants to rewrite the script for Erie.
After 25 years of working at the Erie Playhouse, 10 of which as its executive director, the Gannon University alumna is running for Erie mayor.
Not only is Clerkin a part of the Gannon community as an alumna, but she is also married to the Rev. Shawn Clerkin, who was recently named the co-director of Gannon’s School of the Communication and the Arts.
Almi and Shawn, who is also an alumnus, met at Gannon in 1981 as first-year students.
“I attended a production of ‘Lysistrata,’ in which she was dancing, and I was immediately captivated by her eyes, her smile and her strength,” Shawn Clerkin said.
The two later performed together in the spring 1982 production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the rest is history.
Almi Clerkin said that she and her family were finally able to discuss the mayoral candidacy this past Thanksgiving.
“After a healthy discussion, Shawn’s final exclamation, ‘Let’s go for it!’ spurred us on,” Clerkin said. “Family and friends were on board immediately.”
Their son, Seamus Clerkin, currently a freshman computer science and software engineering major at Gannon, said he was not surprised that his mother rose to the challenge of running for Erie mayor.
Clerkin said that because his mother is an Erie native, she is “indubitably passionate” about the city.
“She is very affectionate and personable and I know she can and will champion Erie city well,” Clerkin said.
Almi Clerkin said that her time as executive director of the Erie Playhouse has given her experience in several areas that would be useful as mayor, including working with people of all experience levels and ages, human resource management and taking work from the page to the stage.
“I would like to see the major plans that have been created put into action and implemented,” Clerkin said. “These include Erie Refocused, Emerge 2040, The Erie Downtown Master Plan and other Neighborhood plans already in existence – BEST and the West Bayfront Plan to name two.”

She also said that she would work for safer neighborhoods, where residents new and old can walk around and feel secure, and education on drug addiction in every school and workplace to diminish the heroin and opioids epidemic in our community. She emphasized that she would put Erie on our governor’s mind by working with local and state representatives.
“I would like to be Erie’s Champion, making 50 visits to Harrisburg and other successful Pennsylvania cities in my first four years as mayor to promote our city and our assets, especially our people, businesses, educational facilities, arts and culture, and natural resources,” Clerkin said.
Although it’s only been about two months since announcing her campaign, Clerkin and her family have been working diligently to spread word of her platform and reach out to as many members of the Erie community as possible.
“While she has a strong coalition of friends and supporters from Villa Maria Academy [her high school alma mater and later employer], Gannon, Mercyhurst University [her first employer], and The Erie Playhouse, there are many who do not know her, her talents and skills, her passion and love for her hometown Erie and her extraordinary commitment to accomplishing any challenge placed before her,” Shawn Clerkin said.
Shawn Clerkin said that while it has been an extremely busy time for the Clerkin family, he and Seamus are committed to both meeting their own obligations and facilitating her campaign in any way they can.
“Hectic is an understatement — but with the added excitement, our admiration for Almi and her gifts is even greater,” said Clerkin.
Even amid all the hustle and bustle, Almi and Shawn Clerkin still find down time to catch up on their favorite television series, with their current obsession being “Sherlock” on Masterpiece on PBS. “Thank God for DVRs,” Shawn Clerkin said.
The primary election will take place on May 16. Gannon students can find more information on voter registration at the Erie County Voter Registration Office at the Erie County Courthouse or online at
“The best thing about this experience so far has been consciously searching for and attending organized events all over the city and meeting with residents and community leaders who have invested so much into our community,” Almi Clerkin said. “We have learned so much in just these short nine weeks.
“Erie is such a great place, with people who genuinely care for each other.”

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