Poloncarz, Dixon, square off in county executive forum

Erie County Executives make pitch to voters

Mike Baggerman
October 02, 2019 - 6:17 pm

Lynne Dixon and Mark Poloncarz square off at a candidate forum at Hilbert College. October 2, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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HAMBURG, N.Y. (WBEN) – Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Lynne Dixon highlighted the Buffalo Bills stadium lease, road infrastructure, Buffalo’s Skyway, economic development, and other county issues in a candidate forum on Wednesday night at Hilbert College.

Below are some of the issues that were discussed:

Bills stadium lease

Poloncarz reiterated that he has no desire to negotiate the lease publicly and touted the non-relocation agreement

“My goal working with the Pegulas…We’ve had early discussion and I think it’s fair to say we have a good relationship with the Pegula administration,” Poloncarz said while noting multiple teams have left cities in St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland.

Dixon, meanwhile, said that when the lease is negotiated, the taxpayers need to come first.

“No community is going to be burdened with something that is going to cost your children’s grandchildren,” Dixon said. “That’s just not going to happen.”

County infrastructure

Dixon said that $26 million that was meant for roads has not been spent. She looked at Lake Avenue as an example of poor county infrastructure and even said that Poloncarz didn’t prioritize that road.

“It is a matter of priorities and a matter of long-term planning to take politics out of road work,” she said.

 She wants long-term plans that ensure the investments last a long period of time.

Poloncarz responded by saying that Erie County has 1,200 center-line miles of road which is more than other states.

“My administration has invested money in roads,” he said. “People like to say otherwise.”

He touted the millions of dollars that his administration has invested in road repairs.

Buffalo Skyway

With plans for a new Buffalo Skyway, it could impact thousands of southtowners who normally take the Skyway to get into Downtown Buffalo.

Poloncarz said he laughed at the design that came out from the goveror’s administration.

“If you’re going to take down the Skyway you have to take the whole thing down,” Poloncarz said. “You can’t even think about doing that until you find a viable method of transportation.”

He said a proposed southtowns connector or a light rail above ground would need to be addressed. Poloncarz noted a lack of federal funding in road infrastructure. He said a lack of money will mean that the new Skyway won’t happen any time soon.

Dixon said she is among those who use the Skyway every day. She said the millions of dollars that would be spent on tearing down the Skyway could be better spent elsewhere, though she didn’t say what she’d rather see the money spent on.

Economic Development

Dixon said that manufacturing companies aren’t bringing in new employees when current ones retire.

“We have to focus on training that workforce,” Dixon said. “Whether it’s ECC or BOCES or the high schools for training programs to better accommodate what the job market is right now, that’s one of the things we have to work on. We have jobs here but not people to fill those jobs.”

Poloncarz said there has been incentives in the manufacturing field that have thousands of part-time jobs and 3,000 full-time jobs. He pitched bringing Canadian companies into Western New York.

“I’m going to continue doing the work at Bethlehem Steel,” he said. “We’ve taken over 150 acres and will be another 90.”

Wednesday’s forum was attended by nearly 100 people.

This year’s election is on Tuesday, November 5.

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