BNP Hosts County Executive Candidates
September 27, 2023
Left: Mark Poloncarz with Dottie Gallagher. Right: Chrissy Casilio, Gallagher, and David Robinson.
In preparation for the 2023 elections, the BNP hosted an Erie County Executive Candidate Forum. Both candidates for Erie County’s highest office – incumbent Mark Poloncarz and challenger Chrissy Casilio – were given 45 minutes to address BNP members in a guided discussion. The BNP does not endorse candidates for office, but instead helps members learn where candidates stand on the issues facing our regional economy.
Poloncarz has served as Erie County Executive since 2012 and is running for a fourth term. He previously served as Erie County Comptroller.
Casilio has spent over 15 years in the marketing and public relations industry, and founded her own business, Casilio Communications, in 2014.
David Robinson, Editor of the Buffalo News’ business newsletter Buffalo Next, moderated the discussion.
Issues discussed included:
- Budget and policy priorities.
- Infrastructure and other county projects. Candidates discussed various projects, including the proposed rehabilitation of the Erie County Holding Center.
- Improving the business climate. Poloncarz stated: “Our area is a dynamo. Erie County’s GDP is not only bigger than several states, it is bigger than some countries. We can compete. We are as good as anybody else.”
- Lessons from the Bills stadium negotiations. Poloncarz touted his efforts to keep the Bills in WNY, while Casilio was critical of his efforts to include project labor and MWBE stipulations.
- Developing the next generation of workers. Casilio stressed, “It is okay for someone to go into a training program (versus a traditional college education). We should be cranking out people for the trades. We need to make it more appealing. We have to do a better job of showing people what their future can look like.”
- The role of migrants in Erie County’s economic future. The most polarizing issue of the Forum and of the entire campaign, the candidates were sharply divided and critical of each other on this issue.
- Incentives and mandates for developing affordable housing.
The Buffalo News’ analysis of the event is available here.
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The BNP works closely with government leaders to keep them informed of employer challenges and to advocate for policy that would ease the workforce crisis. The BNP supports legislation that expands access to education and training, makes quality childcare more accessible, removes barriers to workforce participation, and reforms our immigration system to meet our region’s workforce needs.