If John Persinger wins the mayoral race in Erie, Pa., next month, it just might be the greatest local political upset in America this century. A Republican candidate has not been elected mayor here since 1961, when JFK was president.
Tall, witty, energetic and razor-sharp, Persinger is not the guy you’d expect to settle in a town like Erie. He is the kind of person who leaves, moves on to blazing success elsewhere and never returns.
Persinger’s grandfather, John DeMarco, was the son of Italian immigrants who was supposed to take over the family grocery store but instead went to medical school and ended up delivering more than 12,000 Erie babies.
Before he was born, Persinger’s parents moved to the suburbs outside New York City, but young John spent his summers with his grandparents in this port city in northwestern Pennsylvania. He got his undergrad degree at Harvard, where he was captain of the swim team; he also competed in the 2000 US Olympic team trials.
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