ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — It’s a race that was contentious long before it even began. The two candidates competing for county executive are fundamentally opposed in just about every way, from politics to personality.
“As I promised, I’ll run county government like a business, focused on the taxpayers. My opponent does not have that background. I have created jobs, he’s gonna hire someone to help him focus on jobs. That’s my primary job. That and the fiscal discipline that I’ve shown,” said Erie County executive Chris Collins, (R).
“I think he’s made the wrong decisions by proposing cutting libraries, cutting arts and culturals, while at the same time giving big raises to his highest paid employees. Those are the wrong decisions and I think the people of Erie County are going to respond accordingly,” said candidate for Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz, (D).
There’s no mistaking the differences between Republican county executive Chris Collins and his Democratic opponent Mark Poloncarz, who is currently the county comptroller. Poloncarz describes himself as a forward thinking reformer who, as comptroller, found $30 million in potential savings.
“It’s the same exact thing I want to do as county executive. Find new, innovative ways to provide services that the public demands in ways that maybe other people hadn’t thought about,” said Poloncarz.
Meanwhile, Collins touts his record from the past four years, which includes reducing debt and building a rainy day fund without raising taxes.
“How did we get where we are today? It didn’t just happen. It was hard work, running it like a business with values and vision. That’s what I’m asking them to remember and understand where we can take it with four more years,” said Collins.
Poloncarz has a background in business law and says his blue collar upbringing helps him identify with the vast majority of Erie County.
“I’m still paying off my loans from law school. I’m still driving my car that I’ve had for seven years – a Chevy Impala that has a little rust on it. It’s because I realize that nothing’s handed to you. You have to pinch your pennies and as a result it’s kind of dictated how I’ve been throughout my entire life,” said Poloncarz.
Collins has a record as a highly successful business owner prior to public service. He says he entered politics to fight for future generations of taxpayers.
“This is something I love doing because we are making a difference. What more could you ask of yourself or anyone else? When you go to bed, when they put you six feet under, did you make a difference? We have the last four years. We will make an even bigger difference in the next four years,” said Collins.
The two candidates plan to maintain hectic campaign schedules until Election Day, which is November 8.