A State Assembly primary will be decided today — Tuesday, September 13th — by the voters of Cheektowaga, Depew, and Lancaster only two days after a novice candidate, Monica Wallace, made comments to the Buffalo News that have been interpreted by many Polish Americans as dismissive and condescending.
“I believe the voters will vote for the best candidate, regardless of their last name. And I believe that ethics is first and foremost in their minds, not ethnicity,” Wallace said to the News. “I have been doing a lot to overcome that lack of name recognition, and I’m confident I’m going to be successful.”
But ethnic politics has been a mainstay in the district and — coupled with the intensely negative attacks that Wallace’s backers have propagated against her opponent, Kristy Mazurek — the comments have left voters of Polish heritage offended.
Mazurek is a former television news reporter and a well known figure with deep roots in the district. She is the daughter of former County Legislator Henry Mazurek, a highly regarded figure in Western New York’s Polish community. She is on the board of the Pulaski Association, the Pulaski Parade Committee, and is the Chairwoman of the Polish Festival.
“As you know, I’m very proud of my Polish Heritage. Like everyone, my life was built upon a foundation centered on my cultural and community background. It shaped my career as a journalist and a great deal of my campaign support comes from the hardworking people of Polish ancestry who call Cheektowaga, Depew, Lancaster and Sloan home,” Mazurek writes on social media in response to the attacks.
“My campaign message is positive and founded on the principle of truth. My mailers to voters contain facts about who I am, what I’ve done in the community, which legislation I’m willing to support and how I differ from my opponent. Unfortunately, my opponent and the deep pocket special interest groups funding her campaign have decided to use misleading information, half-truths, and outright lies to smear me in a desperate attempt prop up her candidacy.”
Most recently, Wallace’s headquarters faction of the party changed the date of a news headline from 2006 to 2016 in an attempt to smear Mazurek. They also distributed a mailer containing a picture of Wallace with a group of children wearing T-shirts adorning the Polish eagle.
“As someone who takes her involvement with the Polish community seriously I find this last minute pandering to Polish voters insulting. My opponent, and her Albany financiers, should be ashamed of themselves,” Mazurek said.
The Democratic Party primary is today, September 13th, 2016. The race is widely seen as a toss-up. Polls are open until 9:00 pm.