Beeman's positions led incumbent to launch write-in campaign
Ebert G. Beeman's words hit David Mitchell, a retired librarian and 12-year veteran of Erie County Council, like a body blow.
Beeman, a Waterford Township resident who had won the Republican Party's nomination to fill the council post soon to be vacated by Mitchell, was standing before a group of Corry voters over the summer.
Beeman was talking about how if he were elected, he'd ax the Erie County Public Library's BookMobile.
"Those are fighting words," Mitchell said.
Mitchell, 65, a Republican, had planned on stepping down from Erie County government at the end of his term this year to pursue public service on the state level.
He saw in the ranks of young Republicans in the 6th District at least three viable candidates with local government experience whom he believed would serve the district and the county well.
But in the May primary, those candidates -- Frank Stefano Jr. and Greg Lucas, of the Edinboro area, and Edward DiMattio, of Waterford -- split the primary vote three ways with more than 500 votes each.
Beeman, a Waterford Township auditor and relative political newcomer, emerged victorious, with 573 votes.
Mitchell, a former Corry mayor who has represented the 6th District since 1996, said he met Beeman briefly before the start of a program in Corry over the summer. The meeting went well, Mitchell said.
Then he said he heard Beeman get up and casually talk about getting rid of the BookMobile. In a recent interview, Beeman said he wants to eliminate the entire county library system.
"He basically said he does not like politics or politicians," Mitchell said.
"When you see someone coming out and blasting things in such a partisan way, they are doing it for their own benefit, not the people's," Mitchell said.
Mitchell decided then that he might seek a write-in campaign because he feared Beeman might disrupt county government. Council in the next term will be working with a new county executive and will face very difficult budget planning, he said.
The Republican Party leadership began calling Mitchell, asking him to run because of their own concerns with Beeman's agenda, he said.
Of his decision to mount a comeback, Mitchell said, "I decided if Brett Favre could do it, I could do it," referring to the NFL quarterback.
Mitchell said everyone has a right to their own views and that, like Beeman, he has no love of taxes or excessive government.
But Mitchell said those who protest taxes most loudly tend also to forget that taxes fund what many people consider essential services.
"They simplify a very complicated system, and they get very angry," he said.
He said that because there are seven members of County Council, they must work together, for the good of the county and their respective districts.
"If the other council members isolate him, he won't suffer," Mitchell said. "The district will suffer."