In November, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz will be on the ballot, seeking another term. Wednesday, he was in the Albright-Knox Art Galley auditorium laying out future plans in his State of the County message.
"This year, I'll be convening a shared services panel of local cities, towns, villages and school districts in an attempt to save taxpayers money. We know this can be accomplished," Poloncarz told the large gathering.
Poloncarz promised other new initiatives like Erie Net for better broadband service and Go & Dine to help seniors get out of the house and get a restaurant meal.
"I heard a lot of spending proposals," said county legislator Lynne Dixon, who has announced a challenge to Poloncarz in the November election. She criticized the speech for failing to offer relief to taxpayers.
"I also didn't hear anything about addressing the issue of poverty in Buffalo and in Erie County, which is still among the highest in the nation," Dixon said.
More criticism was being lobbed outside the gallery by members of Showing Up for Racial Justice and other organizations. They held signs that said, "State of our county jails—deadly" and "Talk about the holding center deaths."
Spokesperson Josie Diebold says Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and the legislature can do more in holding Sheriff Tim Howard accountable for the lives lost under his watch.
“They can hold the sheriff accountable and they have chosen not to. We don’t think that it’s a matter of waiting for the next election. We believe that they can do something now,” Diebold said.
Back inside, the Poloncarz hailed the county's improved economy.
"There are now 578,700 jobs in the Buffalo-Niagara Metro Region, 7,500 more than December of 2017 and 27,000 more than 2013," Poloncarz said.
"While we can't take credit for creating all of them, we can take credit for putting programs in place that helped."