Poloncarz outlines what's ahead for Erie County

Nov 4, 2015

Democratic incumbent Mark Poloncarz easily rolled by his Republican challenger Ray Walter celebrating a reelection victory.  Poloncarz won a second four year-term as Erie County Executive. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley reports on what Poloncarz wants to accomplish in the next four years.

Mark Poloncarz talks with reporters after his victory speech.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"I thank you for validing the great work we have done these last four years, but as I have said, we are not done yet. The best is yet to come," Poloncarz stated to a crowd of supporters.

The Erie County Democratic Committee gathered at the Hotel Lafayette for election results. Poloncarz took to the podium for his victory speech as the unofficial results tallied him at 65-percent of vote to Walter's 34-percent. It is a large margin Poloncarz said could potentially be the 'largest' ever received by a democratic county executive.

Mark Poloncarz turns to thank others during his victory speech.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"There's only two county executives that have ever been democrats, that's myself and Dennis Gorski. Mr. Gorski had some tremendous victories in his second and third terms. It looks right now, my percentage of victory may have been larger and I think it is a testament to the work we have done," Poloncarz told reporters.

Poloncarz touted accomplishments of the last four years. He said there has been tremendous progress in economic development and job creation and improvements to parks and roads. But what's next? How will Poloncarz move the county forward through high poverty numbers and create more employment?

WBFO News asked Poloncarz what is next. "One area that I believe we can really turnaround, and bring more jobs to, is the former Bethlehem Steel Plant in Lackawanna. We've already brought Welded Tube there with 100 jobs and a $40-million investment, but as  I said, the best is yet to come. There's more that is going to go on there and I know it," responded Poloncarz.

Poloncarz noted his win was a 'mandate' from the voters. He said there have been increases in population and employment, something that hadn't happened in decades.  

The hash tag used by the Erie County Democratic Committee at its campaign night election celebration party inside the Hotel Lafayette.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Poloncarz is also prepared to deal with the high poverty rates.

"We are going to continue to focus on poverty. It may not be something people thing about when they vote, but you can't have a strong county and have a weak city of Buffalo and have nearly half the children that live in poverty," stated Poloncarz.

Poloncarz was under fire by his opponent for the troubled caseload at Child Protective Services (CPS) where two children died. Poloncarz admitted there were problems. Tuesday evening WBFO asked if he would take further steps. 

"We've made tremendous steps in Social Services, especially in Child Protective Services. The case loads were approximately 50 about a year-and-half ago per employee. They're now down to 20. The state average is 15, 16, so we've got a little more to do, but I think we've gotten to a point we've got it in check," responded Poloncarz.

Poloncarz noted there is always work to do in the county, but he executive promises to keep a responsible government on track -- one that's financial sound and no longer in junk bond status.  Work continues this Thursday on trying to finalize a 2016 budget plan. 

Poloncarz told reporters he was 'humbled' by his reelection.

"I love the job. It's a great job. It's not an easy job. There are days you pull your hair out wondering what happened, there are sleepless nights, especially when it snows seven feet, but it is a job where you can actually have a direct impact on peoples lives," said Poloncarz.