Kathy Dahlkemper

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Kathy Dahlkemper
Erie County Executive
Assumed office
January 6, 2014
Preceded by Barry Grossman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Phil English
Succeeded by Mike Kelly
Personal details
Born Kathleen Ann Steenberge
(1957-12-10) December 10, 1957 (age 60)
Erie, Pennsylvania
United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dan Dahlkemper; 5 children
Residence Erie, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (B.S.)
Occupation Landscaping contractor,
clinical dietitian

Kathleen Ann Dahlkemper (née Steenberge; born December 10, 1957) is an American politician. She was elected the county executive of Erie County, Pennsylvania in 2013 and served as U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 3rd congressional district from 2009 to 2011.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Dahlkemper was born Kathleen Ann Steenberge in Erie, one of seven children of Carl W. and M. Janet Clarke Steenberge. She graduated in 1982 from Edinboro State College (now Edinboro University of Pennsylvania) with a degree in dietetics. After graduating, she worked for more than 20 years as a clinical dietician, first briefly in Houston, Texas and later in the Erie area. Since 1997, she has been part-owner, human resources manager and special projects director of Dahlkemper Landscape Architects and Contractors, a major landscaping firm in the area. She is a co-founder/director of the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]


Rep. Dahlkemper

Dahlkemper was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition. She supported the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for the armed forces,[1] and was a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as "Card check".[2] Dahlkemper identifies as pro-life,[3] and was the "Hall of Fame" Award recipient at the 2009 Conference of Democrats for Life of America.[4] She supported the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, an anti-abortion amendment to America's Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 (HR 3962), but later voted in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act after President Obama issued an executive order that barred the use of federal funds for abortions.

Political campaigns[edit]

2008 congressional campaign[edit]

Dahlkemper and Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Bill George on September 13, 2008.

Dahlkemper announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the 3rd District in October 2007. As a first-time candidate for political office, she defeated the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's favored candidate, Erie County Councilman Kyle Foust, by an unexpectedly wide 19-point margin.

In the general election, Dahlkemper faced seven-term Republican incumbent Phil English. During the campaign, she attacked English for breaking his original promise to only serve six terms in Congress, and also tied him to the Bush administration. She raised $872,000 to English's $2.2 million, but was aided by large spending by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In the November election, Dahlkemper won in an upset, taking 51.2 percent of the vote to English's 48.8 percent. Though she won only two of the district's seven counties (Erie and Mercer), Dahlkemper secured victory by running up a large margin in Erie County, which she won by nearly 16,000 votes.

Dahlkemper was the first Democrat to represent what is now the 3rd District since Joseph Vigorito was toppled by Marc L. Marks in 1976, and only the third Democrat to represent the district since 1893. Although the district is anchored by heavily Democratic Erie, the largest city in the district (no other city has more than 17,000 people), it has historically elected moderate Republicans (most notably Tom Ridge, who represented it from 1983 to 1995).

Dahlkemper was the first woman to represent northwest Pennsylvania in the House, and was one of two women in the 19-member delegation from Pennsylvania, the other being Allyson Schwartz of the Philadelphia area.

Her husband, Dan, was elected the first male President of the Congressional Spouses’ freshman class in 2009.[5]

2010 congressional re-election campaign[edit]

Dahlkemper was defeated by Republican Mike Kelly, a car dealer from the far southern portion of the district by 11.4%, the highest margin of defeat for any incumbent congressperson from Pennsylvania in 2010. While she carried Erie County, she lost badly in the rest of the district.

2013 Erie County executive campaign[edit]

In March 2013, Dahlkemper announced her candidacy for Erie County executive, challenging incumbent Democrat Barry Grossman.[6] She defeated Grossman in the May 21 Democratic primary with 52% of the vote.[7] In the November general election, Dahlkemper defeated Republican nominee Don Tucci, winning 57% of the vote.[8] She took office as county executive on January 6, 2014.

2017 Erie County executive campaign[edit]

Dahlkemper ran for reelection in 2017, winning 50.15% of the vote over her Republican opponent, Art Oligeri.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Dahlkemper married her first husband while in college; they divorced when the marriage turned abusive, and she raised her first son, Aron, as a single mother on food stamp assistance.[10] She later married Dan Dahlkemper, who adopted her son; they had four additional children (Gretchen, Linden, Tricia, and Nathan). She and her husband currently serve on the board of the Diocese of Erie's Worldwide Marriage Encounter.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Phil English
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 3rd congressional district

2009 - 2011
Succeeded by
Mike Kelly