Mark Poloncarz–our town politician
The Puerto Rican political group Nosotros is sponsoring a fundraiser for Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz at the Olivencia Center on Tuesday, August 23, at 261 Swan Street from 5:30 to 7:30. It’s one of over sixteen fundraisers so far this year for Poloncarz after he announced his candidacy for the Erie County Executive race in May.
A graduate of Lackawanna High School, SUNY Buffalo and University of Toledo Law School, Poloncarz worked as an attorney for a private law firm in the area before his election as Erie County Comptroller in 2005. His campaign manager is Jennifer Hibit associated with Local 1199 SEIU. She has the confidence he’ll win especially garner votes from women, a constituency many see as the Achilles heel of Erie County executive Chris Collins after he made what some have called sexist remarks to women not once but several times.
And Collins other problems include his highly contentious battles with the local cultural & arts organizations over funding, while his mantra of running the county as a business irked many voters especially during the recession that gripped the country in 2005, hitting hardest the working and middle-class residents of Erie County.
While, the Outrages and Insights blog described Collins as not only holding programs that directly impact the lives of people in the County such as social, health and human services in low regard, but…he lives in a million dollar house in the exclusive enclave of Spaulding Lake in Clarence far removed from the people he is suppose to serve.
And the $44 million surplus disclosed in March 2009 as the result of extra Medicaid funding he rather used it “…to set it aside in a type of rainy day fund as well as clean up all of past sins of prior administrations.”
So as he cleaned up the past sins of his predecessors, while he balanced the County budget he cut the funds of small cultural organizations later restored the funds through a pack with a private foundation for 2011. Yet, Collins spends unlimited amounts of money to fund what he called the corner-stone of his reform efforts Lean Six Sigma more appropriate for the private sector than a county government with a $1.1 billion budget two-thirds of it for social and health programs.
Still, Poloncarz has an up-hill political battle to run against Collins foremost it has to do with money, the latter a campaign chest of over $1.6 million not to mention his personal wealth, and the heads up with all the television advertisements blasting the airwaves that he started earlier this week. And Collins has the endorsements of two other political parties both the Conservative and Independent lines.
And Poloncarz’s campaign chest of $104,000 has increased since the sixteen or more fundraisers he had some of them big and impressive from a golf classic to one with heavy weight Democrats such as Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Congressman Brian Higgins and Congresswoman Kathy Hochul at the Hyatt Regency on Thursday at $1,000 a ticket.
Although Erie County is overwhelmingly Democratic by over 132,000 voters since the Erie County post created half century ago only one Democrat Dennis T. Gorski ever held the post aside from the Democrat turned Republican Joel Giambra.
The other factor with the Poloncarz candidacy is lack of visibility or name recognition among the voters that he plans to assuage after he hired a few consultants to help him such as broadcast journalist Peter Anderson as campaign spokesman, political consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker and Blue and Read, a direct mail firm.
But Poloncarz has the Gorski appeal now that Erie County Democratic Chair Len Lenihan is out the way, there may be a chance for his protegé with the help of his foe Mayor Byron Brown who will not help he said in June, but not stand in his way either to forge that elusive unity Charlie King so desperately sought, a hard thing to do in “our town” Buffalo.