Since taking office as Erie County Executive in January 2012, Mark has worked to change the culture of Erie County government and return it to its core mission: provide the programs and services that residents and taxpayers demand as effectively and efficiently as possible. And as such, he made it a priority to restore funding for what he calls the “People’s Mandates,” which include the rodent control program, parks improvements, road and bridge construction, libraries, summer youth programming and renewed commitment to arts and cultural organizations. These programs were restored by Mark in a fiscally responsible manner without raising taxes.
Additionally, Mark believes the key to his administration’s success is to create strong partnerships with other levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, educational institutions and community groups. Examples include the creation of one of New York State’s first Land Banks, the establishment of the Erie County Medicaid Anti-Fraud Unit, as well as the successful negotiation of a new 10-year lease with the Buffalo Bills that is fair for local and state taxpayers.
In 2013, Mark announced his “Initiatives for a Smart Economy,” which represents his administration’s deep commitment to a comprehensive, innovative approach to economic development and provides the ‘missing link,’ tying a host of diverse initiatives into one regional development effort. Specifically, this plan includes a total of 64 initiatives across a dozen areas, representing the ‘gears’ that, addressed together, will help change our economic future. These range from agriculture to quality of life and from the ‘Blue’ economy to smart growth.
Before being elected as County Executive, Mark served as Erie County Comptroller for six years. During that time he worked to root out waste, fraud and abuse of the taxpayers’ dollars while creating a more efficient Comptroller’s Office and restoring fiscal stability to Erie County’s government.
As the taxpayer’s watchdog, one of Mark’s first actions was to strengthen the office’s Audit Division and shape it into an Inspector General-style organization that stops and prevents waste, fraud and abuse of county tax dollars. Since taking office, Mark has conducted more than 50 major audits of Erie County’s departments, which have identified more than $27 million in cost savings. For these efforts, Mark’s Audit Division was awarded a prestigious Bronze Knighton Award in 2007 by the Association of Local Government Auditors—the first ever received by any government auditor in New York State.
Before running for public office, Mark practiced corporate and finance law in Buffalo with the firms of Watson Bennett LLP and Kavinoky Cook LLP. His legal practice included representing individuals, businesses – large and small – and local governmental authorities during complex public and private mixed finance transactions.
Mark grew up with his parents and two brothers in the blue-collar steel town of Lackawanna. His parents, Charles, a retired steelworker from Bethlehem Steel Corp., and Janice, a nurse from Mercy Hospital, taught him the value of hard work, being frugal and community from a young age. Mark is a graduate of Lackawanna Senior High School, the State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Toledo’s College of Law.