BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Mark Poloncarz has been re-elected to a fourth term as Erie County Executive, defeating Clarence businesswoman Chrissy Casilio.
The race was called by the Associated Press around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, with Poloncarz leading Casilio by more than 30,000 votes with just over 86% of the vote in. Casilio conceded around the same time the race was called.
Poloncarz has been the Erie County Executive since 2012. He said in September that, if re-elected, his fourth term would be his final term in his position.
“Today, the people of Erie County have spoken about the direction they want our community to go,” Poloncarz said in his acceptance speech. “We’ve been sent back to continue the job.”
He noted while making that statement that he planned for his third term to be his final stint, but felt that a lot of his major plans, including planning and approving the new Bills stadium, had to go on the backburner because of major events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the Tops mass shooting in May 2022.
Poloncarz and Casilio have been at odds about a number of topics during the months of campaigning, including Poloncarz’s response to the historic 2022 blizzard as well as a police report filed against Poloncarz over the summer alleging a domestic dispute at his home. He was also named in a complaint filed to the Erie County Comptroller claiming that thousands of dollars in funds were improperly issued to Buffalo’s Italian Cultural Center. A similar complaint given to News 4 Investigates claims that this was due to Poloncarz being in a relationship with an official at the center.
They also went back and forth over Poloncarz’s response to the migrant crisis across Erie County. Multiple migrants were charged with crimes since groups arrived over the summer. Poloncarz came to an agreement with New York City mayor Eric Adams that no more migrants would come to the area.
Casilio also was the center of controversy during the campaign. Her since-deleted posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, include conspiracies about the 2020 election and Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. During a debate between the two on News 4 in October, she claimed that “there was not an insurrection on January 6.” Her campaign said that she misspoke.
After the remark, Poloncarz questioned Casilio’s “fitness to serve” in the office.
“I truly believe that you learn more about someone’s character in defeat than in success. The voters have spoken,” Casilio said. “I was willing and ready to put myself out there and be vulnerable and have people attack me if it meant at least giving this community a choice and an alternative option and letting them know that there’s other ideas and other people and other ways of doing things. So at the very least, I hope I brought that to light.”
Poloncarz, a Democrat and Lackawanna native, has previously served as Erie County Comptroller before his initial election to county executive.
“There are loud voices out there who think they represent most of the county. But as tonight’s proved, they do not,” Poloncarz said. “No matter who you voted for, I look forward to continuing to serve as your county executive and create the best Erie County possible.”
You can watch Poloncarz’s full victory speech in the video player below.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.