Stonewall Democrats object to "bathroom" remarks by Erie County Comptroller

Jul 20, 2018

He's currently the Erie County Comptroller but has dropped hints of an interest in running for Erie County Executive next year. County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, in the meantime, has offered numerous critical comments about County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Remarks published earlier this week have upset leaders in the LGBTQ community.

Credit Stonewall Democrats

At issue is a remark included in Mychajliw's assessment of Poloncarz as an "out-of-touch, liberal extremist." In comments published by the Buffalo News, the comptroller suggests Poloncarz is more concerned about progressive advancements than handling the county's needs.

He told the Buffalo News, “He’s more interested in banning plastic bags, the Paris climate accords and allowing grown men to use the same bathroom as my daughter than anything else.”

The latter portion of that quote has LGBTQ advocates upset, including Bryan Ball, president of the Stonewall Democrats of Western New York.

"This is very disturbing for any elected official - he's still the Erie County Comptroller - to say something like this, " Ball said. "Also, as a preview for an election, it's disturbing that this is where the dialogue is starting at. These remarks have no place in decent political discourse and it's very disheartening to hear that coming from one of our county-wide elected officials."

Ball pointed to the county's achievements for progress and inclusion, including bipartisan passage of housing protection for transgender people and a ban on "conversion therapy."

WBFO contacted the comptroller's office for comment. Bryan Fiume, a spokesperson for Mychajliw, issued the following written statement: "The priorities of Mark Poloncarz are misguided, out of touch, and not in step with moderate, reasonable taxpayers across Erie County. The Comptroller remains of the opinion that while on duty, the County Executive's priorities should be county issues, like managing his failing infrastructure, fixing parks, filling potholes, helping businesses grow and creating jobs and reducing county spending. Instead, the current County Executive is focused on national issues that have nothing to do with the issues he was elected to manage. Well-intentioned groups may attempt to distort the Comptroller's correct comments for political gain. The fact remains that our current County Executive is an out of touch, liberal extremist, that totally checked out from his actual responsibilities.The Comptroller stands by his statement that Mark Poloncarz's priorities are giving illegal immigrants licenses, banning plastic bags, the Paris Climate Accord, and who gets to use what bathroom, compared to doing the job he was hired to do." 

The Stonewall Democrats of Western New York are urging Mychajliw to meet and get to know many who have found his previous comments hurtful.

"What we are proposing is for the comptroller to have a meeting with leaders in the transgender community so that he can understand why these comments are so wrong, hateful and demeaning."

Poloncarz, meanwhile, posted a reply on social media earlier this week listing several accomplishments he intends to emphasize in a re-election campaign, including the creation of 28,200 new jobs, negotiating a new Buffalo Bills stadium lease, lead poisoning prevention and anti-poverty efforts, investment in parks, libraries and infrastructure, leading the county through an opioid epidemic and leading the county multiple storms and natural emergencies.