BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The much-anticipated Erie County Executive Debate on Wednesday evening saw, for the first time in this race, incumbent Mark Poloncarz and his election opponent Lynne Dixon challenge one another on their policies and records.
“We’ve accomplished much folks, but there’s still more to do. That’s why I ask for your support on Election Day so we can keep Erie County moving forward,” said Poloncarz, a Democrat, in his opening statement.
“I’m not running for Erie County Executive because I love politics,” said Dixon, during her opening statement. “I’m not running for Erie County Executive because I desire power. I’m running for Erie County Executive because I love this community.”
Poloncarz began as Erie County Executive in 2012. Dixon is a county legislator who represents Hamburg, Lackawanna and a slice of South Buffalo. Dixon identifies as an Independent and is running as an endorsed Republican.
Questions posed and answers submitted included ones on property taxes, the Bills lease, a proposed fee on paper grocery bags, and the Tesla project at Riverbend in South Buffalo.
An early topic of emphasis was the state of county roads. Poloncarz was challenged on why he rolled over $9 million dollars on infrastructure into an election year. While he says spending is based on the weather, Dixon says money is tabled when it shouldn’t be each year.
“We can talk a lot about the money we put toward roads, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be spent,” Dixon said. “A lot of money is left on the table, and a lot of roadwork that needs to be done isn’t getting done.”
“If we have a season like we did last year where we lost most of Sept. and Oct., then we have no choice to carry them over the winter,” Poloncarz said. “We can’t do blacktop when the snow starts falling. We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature.”
The most heated moment came toward the end, as Dixon’s voting record as a County Legislator came up. Although she’s running as an independent, Poloncarz said Dixon aligns herself with Republicans.
Specifically, the two candidates squared off against a recent advertisement in which the Poloncarz campaign Photoshopped Dixon with a picture of former Congressman Chris Collins.
Both sides allege the other campaign used Photoshop in advertisements to get a certain message across.
What we were doing is saying she supported a lot of the things Chris Collins did,” Poloncarz said. “She doesn’t want the public to know that. Chris Collins’ political team is running her political campaign.”
But Dixon said Poloncarz is attacking her character on untrue accusations.
“If you look at his ads that are running right now, he is making suggestions of me being something I am not. He’s Photoshopping out Purple Heart veterans and Photoshopping in Chris Collins,” Dixon said.
News 4 Buffalo partnered with the Amherst Regional Chamber of Commerce to host the debate at Burchfield Penney Art Center.
Election Day is Nov. 5.