Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Mary Holtz says that she doesn’t use her Town-owned vehicle improperly, despite not owning a personal vehicle for personal use. The longtime elected official, who served as Town Clerk for over a decade before taking the Supervisor’s office seven years ago.
Holtz is not the first Supervisor to have a Town car as a perk. To her credit, she downsized the vehicle expense that her predecessors incurred. They used a large sports utility vehicle with poor fuel efficiency, whereas she uses a Malibu that costs the Town less. Holtz says that the seven year old vehicle only has 60,000 miles on it.
“I would say that about 80% of that mileage is for town business. I might use the vehicle for grocery shopping and going to church, but I don’t use it improperly,” Holtz explains. “This vehicle has always been part of the Supervisor’s compensation, and I’m taxed on it as such.”
Holtz vehemently denies using the vehicle for political proposes, as some critics have alleged. When she attends political fundraisers, her driver is usually Councilman Gary Kaminski, she explains.
“I never use the vehicle for political events,” she insists, and even challenges her critics to provide photo evidence of the allegation.
Councilwoman Diane Benczkowski has taken issue with town-sponsored vehicles over the last several months, still in her first term of office. She has suggested that the handful of town employees who are authorized to use town vehicles make enough money to pay for their own cars.
The Councilwoman has incurred pushback in some political circles for her budget-cutting posture, though her suggestions have met considerable resistance on the Town Council.
“Often times, I’m just one vote, so what do you do?” she asks.
Political operatives say that Benczkowski is considering a run for Town Supervisor, but she insists that she would only do so if she had the endorsement of the Erie County Democratic Party. She says that she doesn’t want to divide the party.
“When I first came on the council, I wanted to work with Mary. But when I started asking questions and trying to fix things, she took committee positions away from me and threw up roadblocks,” she explains.
Cheektowaga is expected to be a critical battleground this election cycle, and the divisive politics in the town could foreshadow a Democrat primary challenge to incumbent County Executive Mark Poloncarz. There is chatter in political circles that Assemblyman Michael Kearns; deputy county clerk Camille Brandon; Buffalo Councilman Joe Golombek; businesswoman Sundra Ryce; and Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang are rumored to be considering the primary.