Strengthening our Community –
Mark has made the health and welfare of Erie County residents a priority over the past years of his administration. Mark recognizes that although indicators show that the County as a whole is better off than it was a few short years ago, some of Erie County’s residents are not reaping the benefit of this upswing.
During his first term as executive he released a plan entitled “Initiatives for a Strong Community” to address poverty and need in our community. The plan is full of actionable items that require the county to pair with local agencies to improve the health and well-being of Erie County residents. Due to Mark’s efforts, the long dormant community advisory “Welfare Committee” was rechristened the “Poverty Committee” and empowered to offer solutions to county policymakers on how to best address the issue, and millions of dollars based on its recommendations were invested in new programs designed to lift people out of poverty.
When Mark took office as executive there was no primary care physician or dentist in the 14212 zip code in Buffalo. Under Mark’s leadership the Erie County Health Mall was created at 1500 Broadway in Buffalo providing primary, dental and mental health services to an under-served population and open to all county residents. Learn more about the Health Mall here.
When the opioid epidemic reared its ugly head in our community Mark Poloncarz acted. He declared a public health crisis and ordered the formation of the Opioid Epidemic Task Force, which has attacked the epidemic head on. Because of his early action, Mark was named to a national opioid epidemic task force himself, and he has traveled the state and country describing the efforts undertaken in Erie County to end the crisis. Unlike other areas of the nation, deaths in Erie County are decreasing and Erie County is now viewed as the model of how to address the epidemic, all under Mark Poloncarz’s leadership. In fact, in 2018, the Erie County Department of Health was named the large health department of the year by the National Association of County and City Health Officials for its response to the opioid epidemic.
Mark has also made streamlining the administration of the Department of Social Services a priority. The largest department by size and expenditures in county government had one of the smallest administrative structures. Mark created a department more geared to address the needs of our constituents, and more ready to respond to the changing rules of the day. As a result he restructured the Social Services administration to ensure the the department runs efficiently from the top down. He also fought for and hired more child protective caseworkers to ensure that they are not overburdened, and streamlined those positions to better suit the needs of today, all with the goal of better protecting children in our community.
Erie County is a vibrant community that has gotten economically stronger over the past several years. Mark understands now at this time of great economic renaissance is the best time to ensure that all members of our community grow stronger and healthier together.