Weekly Feature

2011-11-02 / Local News



Collins Collins Christopher Collins County Executive candidate

R, C, I

During the last four years, I have learned that being county executive has its challenges. We have had to make tough decisions to move our community forward. And I have certainly learned that you cannot please all the people, all the time.

Four years ago, Erie County was broken. You hired me to fix it. And we have. Four years ago, Erie County had a hard control board overseeing our finances. Today, the hard control board is gone. We have made historic investments in our roads, bridges, parks and beaches. And Erie County is out of the hospital business. Our structurally balanced budgeting continues to hold the line on taxes and uses recurring revenues to pay for recurring expenses. During the past four years, we have reduced Erie County’s long-term debt by $140 million and in the next four years, will reduce the debt by another $100 million.

Poloncarz Poloncarz Our results and accomplishments are making Erie County a place where businesses have confidence in government. As a result, Erie County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state or country, and we have experienced 17 straight months of private-sector job growth.

My administration will continue to live by its core values of smaller government, personal accountability, local decision making, fiscal discipline, serving taxpayers and respecting future generations.

My family and I live in Clarence. I received a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina State University in 1972 and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Alabama in 1975.

Mark Poloncarz County Executive candidate


I grew up in the blue-collar steel town of Lackawanna with my parents and two brothers. My parents, a retired steelworker from Bethlehem Steel and a nurse from Mercy Hospital, taught me the value of hard work, frugality and community from a young age. Prior to holding elected office, I practiced corporate and finance law in Buffalo with the firms of Watson Bennett LLP and Kavinoky Cook LLP.

Jacobs Jacobs During the height of the “Red-Green” fiscal crisis in 2005, I was elected as Erie County comptroller to clean up the mess that was Erie County’s fiscal state and restore credibility and trust in the Comptroller’s Office. Since my election, I have rooted out waste and fraud in government, created a more efficient Comptroller’s Office and restored fiscal stability to Erie County’s government.

I believe that county government’s role isn’t to rule over but to serve its residents. As county executive, I will work with our partners in government and the private sector to ensure Erie County provides the best possible services to its residents at the lowest possible cost. I am running to represent the hardworking people of Erie County who saw their taxes raised while their services were cut.

Whyte Whyte As county executive, I will:

Work to bring jobs back to Erie County.

Create better, more efficient government that will help grow our economy.

Encourage our artistic and cultural assets and grow and preserve our libraries.

Always remember who I work for: the taxpayers of Erie County.

Chris Jacobs County Clerk candidate

R, C, I

My education is unmatched by any other candidate. I graduated from Boston College and received my law degree from the University at Buffalo and my master’s degree from the American University in Washington, D.C.

Rath Rath My success as a businessman is helping to rebuild Buffalo and has led to the creation of jobs and putting property back on the tax rolls.

I am a committed community activist. Sixteen years ago, I formed the Bison Fund, which helps needy children attend the school of their choice. More than 16,000 children have been given the chance for a quality education, thanks to its efforts.

I have real ideas for making the county clerk’s office more responsive and more committed to your needs. Veterans will have the opportunity to save up to $10 million a year through my proposed vastly improved Veterans Discount Card. I have a unique idea for keeping more than $1 million here in Erie County instead of its going into the state’s coffers. One-half million would go into tax savings, and the other half-million, into cultural organizations of your choice.

Vazquez Vazquez I am a smart, successful businessman who is innovative and the type of person who will bring new ideas to the clerk’s office and the Motor Vehicle Department. I’ll put the “customer”— the people of Erie County — first.

Maria Whyte County Clerk candidate


I am an Erie County legislator currently seeking the office of County Clerk. First elected to the 6th District of the Legislature in 2005, I was the first-ever freshman legislator elected majority leader. In that role, I negotiated on behalf of the diverse Democratic Caucus, whose members represented urban, suburban and rural parts of the county, with the county executive and other elected officials. Because of my tenacity, hard work and dedication, I was successfully re-elected majority leader every year I have been in the Legislature.

Bylewski Bylewski As legislator, I helped pass an on-time balanced budget every year I have been in office. I fought to protect library services and fund programs that aided children and senior citizens. I also fought against large raises for political employees, saving thousands for Erie County taxpayers.

I am endorsed by Rep. Kathy Hochul, the former County Clerk. I will continue Hochul’s legacy of providing high-quality, efficient service to Erie County residents. I have a plan to expand the services available at local DMVs and make the Clerk’s Office faster, easier and more efficient.

I have one sister and was raised in a military family. I graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University, with a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and anthropology. I currently live on the City of Buffalo’s West Side with my husband and two children, Liam and Charlotte.

Edward A. Rath III County Legislator Candidate

Hartzell Hartzell (District 6) R, C, I

I am proud to have been born and raised in Amherst and now call it home with my wife, Amy, and our three daughters. My family has been committed to serving Erie County, and I have been honored to continue that tradition, serving as a legislator for the past four years.

I am seeking re-election to continue to build on the successful accomplishments recorded the past few years. My top priorities have been protecting your quality of life by investing in our infrastructure, funding public safety and supporting economic development. I was proud to secure funding for many major road and bridge projects completed recently.

Since taking office, I have been dedicated to implementing numerous cost-saving measures. One such initiative that I am most proud of is the downsizing of the Legislature from 15 to 11 members, which will save millions of dollars. I voted 154 consecutive times to uphold the county executive’s vetoes and stop excessive spending proposed by the Majority Caucus that would have led to an $8 million tax increase. I will continue to fight for reform and deliver quality county services without wasteful spending.

Geiger Geiger As legislators, we are responsible for the health and human services in Erie County, and I am proud to have been the lead sponsor on several local laws that have made a real difference in our community, such as the “Silver Alert,” which protects our vulnerable seniors. Currently, my colleagues and I are working to make cyber-bullying illegal in Erie County.

I will continue to champion meaningful reform for the residents of our county.

Toni Vazquez County Legislator candidate

(District 6) D, WF

Kolber Kolber I am truly not a career politician. I have a Master of Business Administration degree, and I am a small business owner, homeowner, wife, mother of four and the administrator of a successful, state-of-the-art medical facility. I have a proven record of successful leadership. Triumphs and the American dream emerge from hard work, which I am committed to doing for the taxpayers of our county.

I graduated from the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University; I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University at Buffalo and a Master of Business Administration degree from Medaille College. My husband, Raul (Dr. V.), and I built Urban Family Practice 15 years ago.

I employ people. I am accountable for the budgetary, managerial, personnel and administrative aspects of our facility. I intend to incorporate my education and my skills in managing the demands of Erie County residents.

Weiss Weiss I understand that we are diverse neighbors but with common needs: the need for safe streets, sound schools, adequate jobs, reasonable taxes and affordable health care, as a prelude to a comfortable, secure retirement.

I pledge to fight for resources for Erie County’s 6th Legislative District. As a fiscal conservative, it is important to me that our county incorporate sound fiscal management and smart economic development as a way to keep taxes down, create jobs and retain families in Western New York. I will promote well-balanced development and secure industry and jobs, while preserving and cultivating green space. And most importantly, I would do it all for free.

Scott Bylewski Town Supervisor candidate


I am running for re-election to keep Clarence working together. I work with others in the best interest of the town, regardless of party affiliation — something our state’s and nation’s capitals cannot seem to do. During the last four years, we faced many hardships, both manmade and natural, and are living through the worse financial period since the Great Depression. Despite all that, 93 percent of town residents are satisfied with town government.

We are fiscally sound. During my term, the general fund tax rate was flat, and in this budget, it will decrease. Before there was a tax cap, we kept spending at the rate of inflation, despite having increased demands placed on the town as we continue to grow. We maintain the highest bond rating for a town of our size. Our constitutional debt limit percentage used is approximately the same as it was in 1970.

We run the town like a business, with a heart. We use continuous improvement methods, like Lean Six Sigma, to improve the bottom line and services while empowering employees.

We are transparent. We changed the ways meetings are conducted to allow for more public input than ever while making the process more understandable and less confusing.

My legal and business backgrounds have served us well during the last four years. I humbly ask for your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Education: Juris Doctor, Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science, cum laude, from the University at Buffalo.

David Hartzell Town Supervisor candidate

R, C, I


Graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1979.

Attended University of Utah Graduate School; graduated from the Masters of Public Administration/Master of Business Administration program in 1980.

Work history:

Manager, General Electric Company.

Worked at GE during the Jack Welsh era.

Currently president and CEO of Cornell Capital Management, worldwide financial planning corporation specializing in private and corporate finance. World headquarters is in Clarence Center.

Goals and reasons for seeking office:

My main goal is to restore the Town of Clarence to financial stability and to cut wasteful spending.

The burden becomes more than many residents, especially senior citizens, can afford. Times are tough! The people of Clarence simply cannot afford such a crushing tax increase.

The second key issue facing Clarence taxpayers is the $8 million hockey rink that the current supervisor would like to build with taxpayers’, not private, money. I am not opposed to a new hockey rink, provided it is paid for with private funds. One has to look no further than to our neighbors in Amherst to see how the best-laid plans can come up disastrously short. The Northtown Center at Amherst will bleed Amherst taxpayers for the next 30-plus years. We need to learn from their mistake. If there is enough interest in a new hockey rink to call for a referendum, I support the right of every citizen in Clarence to get a vote on the project. I feel that everybody should have a vote on a project this big, which has such long-term consequences for Clarence taxpayers.

Robert A. Geiger Town Board candidate

D, R, C

As a resident of Clarence for 48 years, I and my wife, Pat, have raised three children under our excellent school system and with having our eight grandchildren in the area, I realize this is the time to stand up and be counted as a promoter of all the positive attributes of Clarence.

I was the co-owner of Four Seasons Restaurants and prior to that worked for the Upson Company as director of purchasing and transportation. Recently, I worked for the Clarence Chamber of Commerce in the area of business development and new memberships. I am a past president of the Clarence Rotary Club, am on the Zoning Board of Appeals and Clarence Recreation Board, and am the Chamber liaison to the Clarence Industrial Development Agency and the Rotary Club liaison to the Clarence Nature Center. I am a graduate of the University at Buffalo in business administration and a veteran of the 98th Regiment of the U.S. Army Reserves.

It is important we continue controlled growth of our town with guidance from our planning boards to progress business in Clarence, along with the addition of sewers in our enhanced business zones. This could be accomplished as a joint public-private venture to reduce development costs to our town and, with added new business in place, we would benefit with lower taxes. This is one of my key goals. Also of great importance is to be part of a Town Council that works in a bipartisan manner for the betterment of Clarence and resolves its personal differences prior to assembly. We should review our brush pickup program to give better service to our residents and provide cleaner roadways. This council must listen to the public and remember that we work for them and should at all times be respectful.

Bernard J. Kolber Town Board candidate

D, R, C, I

As a candidate for re-election to the Clarence Town Board, I am quite proud to have the endorsement of my own Republican party, but also have the Democratic, Conservative and Independence party lines. I would like to think that this is due to my ability to work across party lines and to treat everyone with respect and fairness. A recent survey of Clarence residents had more than 93 percent of respondents satisfied, or extremely satisfied, with our town government. This is something that I take great pride in.

I am the founder and managing partner of The Buffalo Dental Group LLP, a dental group practice focusing on esthetic and minimally invasive dentistry. My educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Lawrence University, and I attended the Masters of Business program at the College of William and Mary and graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.

Being raised in Clarence and having spent most of my life here, I am committed to working to keeping Clarence moving forward with stable taxes and spending, excellent services and a great quality of life. We have a great town. With your help and vote, I will do my best to keep Clarence a great place to live.

Joseph Weiss Town Board candidate


Citizens might remember me. I received more votes than any other candidate in the last election. This year, I was endorsed by the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties.

Then I asked a few questions about the growing costs of Clarence fire protection ... and irritated some wealthy fellow by voting against his personal fireworks display. The wealthy fellow funded the Gestapo tactics of the firemen, who urged their pals to vote against me — costing me the Republican and Conservative lines. Note that the two candidates who won those lines have publicly sworn allegiance to the firemen, apparently no matter what it does to your taxes.

I earned an undergraduate degree at St. Bonaventure University, a master’s at Canisius College and a doctorate from the University at Buffalo at age 24 — not bad for a kid from the Cheektowaga projects who put himself through school working for the N.Y. Central Railroad. Companies I’ve started from nothing employ hundreds of local people and are valued at tens of millions of dollars.

My focus always has been on fighting to control taxes and to hold people accountable for their spending of your money — no matter who they are. Am I outspoken? Yes — and aggressive. That’s how I’ve accomplished so much. I’ve taken on every issue from geese to development and have a history of success that the other two candidates combined couldn’t hope for. After assessing the character of the other councilman candidates, I thought it might be useful to have somebody at the debate who is willing to tell the truth.

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