Again, organized labor has made a stunning victory in what was once thought of as an unwinnable race in upstate New York. Democrat Erie County Executive Candidate Mark Poloncarz defeated incumbent Republican Chris Collins. Poloncarz, who now becomes only the second Democrat to win the Erie County Executive’s race in the 51-year history of the office,- defeated Collins by a margin of 53 to 47 percent. The victory comes just several months after underdog Democrat Kathy Hochul defeated her Republican opponent in a heavily Republican District to capture the Congressional seat in New York’s 26th District.
1199SEIU political coordinator Jennifer Hibit served as Poloncarz’s campaign manager. From the beginning of the campaign, 1199SEIU members sacrificed evenings and weekends to make phone calls and knock on doors. 1199SEIU members were responsible for engaging voters in the city of Buffalo for an unexpectedly high turnout from inner city communities. “It was the city vote that won the election for Poloncarz,” says 1199 Delegate Annie Lewis, who made phone calls for Poloncarz and other county legislative candidates.
“While Erie County’s unions and their members reveled in Poloncarz’s underdog victory over Collins – whom many working people had likened to anti-worker Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin – organized labor racked up another huge and important victory in the State of Ohio as Buckeye State voters resoundingly overturned the anti-worker agenda pushed by Republican Governor John Kasich,” said Tom Campbell, editor or WNY Labor Today.
1199 Vice President Todd Hobler gave thanks to union volunteers who “have been standing up and fighting back against the organized attacks on labor,” especially Janice Bennett, Timothy Bennett, Olena Bowen, Ralph Byrd, Clarke Christina, Nicole Cleague, Connie Crampton, Doris Crawl, Noreen Darcy, Erika Dixon, Patra Eaton, Darlene Gates, Danielle Gates-White, Rosalind Hampton, Evelyn Harris, Walter Higgins, Jajuan Horton, Reginald Jones, Vanessa Marks, Patricia Mccarthy, Joyce Melton, Lynne Pierce, Delores Reese, William Scott, Rosemary Speranza, Denise Sweet, Betty Thompson, Lamaar Truesdale, Elizabeth Walker, Asia Willis, and Rosemary Wilson.