Mark C. Poloncarz is Erie County’s eighth County Executive. He 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. Before being elected as County Executive, Poloncarz served as Erie County Comptroller for six years.
Since being sworn in as County Executive on January 1, 2012, Poloncarz has worked to change the culture of Erie County government and return it to its core mission: providing the programs and services that residents and taxpayers demand in an efficient and effective way.
Mark Poloncarz has led the way to balanced county budgets in each year he’s been in office and has cut county taxes to levels not seen since the mid- 90’s. As a result Erie’s county tax rate is now among the lowest in New York State. At the same time, Erie County’s credit rating has risen significantly under his watch while the county has continued to invest millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements, county parks, libraries, and arts organizations; made advances in public health; and supported innovative programs to reduce poverty, among many other achievements. In 2013 Mark also led the Erie County team in securing a new ten-year lease with the Buffalo Bills during his first year as County Executive.
Mark’s Initiatives for a Smart Economy, released in June 2013, and his Initiatives 2.0 version released in June 2017 provide evolving blueprints for comprehensive, innovative economic development across Erie County, with county departments acting either as the lead agency or working with community partners to effect change. Together the two plans encompass over 130 target areas for economic development, with the first Initiatives mostly complete and the second well underway.
Mark’s leadership has brought new life to the long-dormant Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna, has reinforced pay equity between genders as the rule in Erie County, and has created new protections for seniors and veterans. As County Executive, Mark has been at the forefront of protecting and enhancing our unique natural assets and has steadily expanded the amount of acres in our county Parks system, along with working to create a cleaner Lake Erie through improvements in wastewater treatment and the passage of a law banning microbead-containing products in the county. Poloncarz has led the way in the fight against the Opioid Epidemic in Erie County and nationally as a member of the County and City National Opioid Epidemic Task Force.
In early 2015, Poloncarz released “Initiatives for a Stronger Community,” his health and human services plan for Erie County. The plan included 49 separate initiatives to address issues of poverty throughout the county, including issues facing the City of Buffalo, which was identified as the 3rd poorest city in America when Poloncarz took office in 2012. Poloncarz also empaneled a “Poverty Committee” of local leaders to help guide efforts of his administration to address the root causes of poverty.
Poloncarz changed the way our community promoted business development by shepherding a tax incentive recapture policy through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) requiring companies that receive tax breaks to pay them back if they do not create the jobs they agree to, which policy is now considered a model policy by New York State. He also implemented a pay equity policy at the ECIDA requiring all applicants for tax incentives to agree to a policy to provide salary data to the agency to prove they do in fact pay women equally. These efforts have created a more equitable and fair system for all.
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 resides in the City of Buffalo.