Katrinna Martin is planning a third-party bid for County Legislature on the Working Families line to hold local Democrats accountable. She is a critic of local party leaders, including County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner, who she says have done little to earn the African American community’s support.
“Mark Poloncarz has done jack for the East Side of Buffalo, and the Democratic Party doesn’t get to take our vote for granted anymore,” she tells The Chronicle. Poloncarz has a nearly non-existent relationship with the African American community and has rarely held any public meetings east of Main Street.
Martin points to Erie County’s discriminatory funding policies on roads, in which the County pays tens of millions a year to maintain and improve roads in the suburbs, but doesn’t maintain a single lane-mile inside the City of Buffalo.
This year the Democrat-controlled County Legislature allocated only $300,000 for roadwork inside the City of Buffalo.
“The Democratic Party has failed to deliver on even the most basic measures of economic progress for the East Side of Buffalo — like roads and sidewalks — how can we expect them to tackle the bigger challenges, like gun violence and rising rents,” she asks.
Martin argues that the reason that Buffalo’s East Side has been so marginalized inside of Western New York’s economy is because of a doting alliance with the local Democratic Party. She characterizes the local Democratic Party as ‘institutionally racist’ in the way that it expects Black votes and then never delivers on economic integration.
“We know sure well that both parties are racist, and we’ve come to accept that. We want to know who has the right economic policies and is willing to put more money on the table to finally integrate our economy,” she explains. “And the Democrats are increasingly vulnerable to losing its most loyal constituency to other parties with stronger ideas.”
In Erie County, one-third of voters are Republicans, one-third are white-Democrats, and one-third are Black-Democrats.
Martin argues, that if the local African American community leaves the Democratic Party for the Working Families Party — or any other party for that matter — the community’s economic integration could be achieved more quickly by acting collectively as a deliberate swing vote.
“We have the numbers,” she says. “There is leverage in withholding support from Democrats who haven’t delivered on the issues.”