CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Dozens of Cheektowaga and Erie County residents came out on Tuesday night to voice concerns about the ongoing asylum seeker crisis at a forum held by Republican leaders from Cheektowaga, Erie County and New York State.

It was held at Potts Banquet Hall on Rossler Avenue, which is just a few blocks from the Dingens Street hotel that housed asylum seekers. The county began moving people out of that facility to another hotel in Amherst last week.

Candidates running for local elections in Erie County and Cheektowaga were also there to field questions and concerns. Chrissy Casilio, who is running for Erie County Executive, hosted the meeting.

Republicans say Democratic leaders failed county residents by allowing asylum seekers to stay in the community.

“The reason we’re doing it is because Democratic leaders that represent the Town of Cheektowaga haven’t done a thing to listen to any of you. That includes Mark Poloncarz, Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, the town officials Brian Nowak. They’ve ignored you. They’ve ignored people who are rightly concerned about what’s happening in their community,” Erie County Republican Chairman Michael Kracker said at the forum.

Democrats say Republican leaders are fanning the flames and making the situation hyper-political.

“There isn’t this big nightmare scenario going on in the community that the Republican Chairman and his Republican leaders are perpetuating,” Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner said in a separate interview with News 4. “To bring the Senate Minority leader into Cheektowaga, doesn’t he have better things to do? What is he doing there? He doesn’t even represent the Town of Cheektowaga. They’ve brought a political circus into our community.”

Several residents spoke out with concerns, including enrolling asylum seeking children into local school districts, what funds are paying for this program and how long asylum seekers will be staying in the community.

The officials at the forum tonight assured residents that their concerns were heard and would be brought forward at various levels of government.

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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.