Community organizer Duncan Kirkwood slammed Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz for his allegedly weak progressive credentials in a widely read Buffalo News editorial last month. It’s just the latest friction between the County Executive and Buffalo’s African American community.
Poloncarz is not popular among the left flank of the party, nor is he warmly received in the African American community. Many operatives believe the County Executive has taken both constituencies for granted, delivering little in the way of progress on even the most symbolic of agenda items.
“All over the country, there is an attack on brown-skinned immigrants,” Kirkwood writes. “… but here in Erie County, leaders of our county government have joined forces to refuse to enforce this law.”
The Democrat majorities in the State Legislature passed a “Green Light” bill that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a drivers license, provoking a political backlash among Republicans and Independents.
Local Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes was a strong supporter of its passage, but County Clerk Mickey Kearns, filed a lawsuit against the Governor that challenges the constitutionality of the bill.
Kirkwood calls Kearns, “a Democrat that functions as a Republican.”
Meanwhile, County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw has been encouraging citizens to call Erie County’s whistleblower hotline to report undocumented immigrants who are trying to apply for a license. He would then forward the information to ICE.
“So even though Peoples-Stokes and the Democrats in the State Legislature support this bill, our Democratic county executive is siding with the Republicans. Now, I wouldn’t say Poloncarz is a closet Trump Democrat, but I would say he wants to be reelected,” Kirkwood explains.
Poloncarz, the titular head of the Erie County Democratic Party, released a statement at the time, explaining that “…there are many significant legal issues that exist with the law, including the question of its constitutionality and the necessity of ensuring non-citizens are prevented from voting.”
“Ultimately I do not believe this law benefits the people of Erie County and I cannot support it,” Poloncarz concluded.
Kirkwod thinks that Poloncarz is pandering to “Trump Democratic voters” in order to get reelected in November. He thinks Poloncarz is worried that those Democrats are going to vote for Lynne Dixon, the Independent who has been nominated by the Republicans and Conservatives.
“The ‘politics as usual’ mindset is harmful to our community, and it shows that [Poloncarz] is not a real progressive leader,” Kirkwood asserts.