I know you don’t need to be reminded, yet again, that this coming Tuesday, Novemeber 8 is the General Election in New York State. Every year, it seems, brings an election more important, more urgent than the last. And that is why I must stress that there is so much again on the line this year, for the future of equality in Western New York.
At the top of our ticket, we could not have two stronger allies positioned to lead Erie County into a better, more equal future. This year, our election could not more perfectly illustrate why we are Democrats, why we work of the people and for the people’s rights. On November 8, we will elect Mark Poloncarz as our County Executive, and end County Executive Chris Collins’ anti-LGBTQ term in office. Chris Collins has failed our cities, our towns, our villages and our county on so many issues such as health care, funding for our thriving artistic economy and the working class. But when Collins was faced with the opportunity to sign into policy an LGBTQ-inclusive Equal Employment Opportunity policy for the county—championed by Legislator Maria Whyte with bi-partisan support from the legislature—Chris Collins failed our community and families, and refused to sign the policy for the resolution included gender identity as a protected status. Thankfully, Mark Poloncarz is running to correct that inequality in the County Executive’s office. A longtime, staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights from marriage equality to gender expression non-discrimination, Mark Poloncarz knows how to stand up for all us and our families in WNY, and treat each resident, constituent and worker with the dignity and resecpt every individual is entitled.
Alongside Mark Poloncarz, this year we have Legislator Maria Whyte running for County Clerk. Throughout her tenure in the legislature Maria Whyte has done many amazing things. Always a voice for the voiceless and those in need, Maria Whyte has been one of the most true, fiercest and pro-active champions the LGBTQ community has in government. When Maria Whyte realized Erie County didn’t have an EEO policy for all people, she decided to do something about. When the County Executive attempted—and in some instances succeeded—in cutting vital funding and services to health care and the arts and culturals—Maria Whyte was there to stand for what is right. When I first met Maria, at a Stonewall Democrats meeting as a candidate running the first time for the legislature, I was stunned by her passion, sense of commitment and inherint knowledge of what is right. And from that moment on, Maria Whyte has made good on that promise. Always, Maria Whyte has been what the Stonewall Democrats of Western New York are all about: advancing the rights, well-being and human dignity of all people. And as our next County Clerk, Maria Whyte will take that accomplishment to the administration of county services, and continue the great work Congresswoman Kathy Hochul started in making the Clerk’s Office a better place for all residents of Erie County.
And how important this election is doesn’t stop in Erie County. In Jamestown, we will reelect City Council President Greg Rabb, the only openly gay elected official in WNY. In the City of Buffalo, we will reelect our champions on the Common Council, Councilmembers David Rivera and Michael LoCurto. And for the Erie County Legislature, our allies and friends will be reelected and elected with Legislator Lynn Marinelli, Jeremy Zellner and Joe Mascia. Each of these candidates is why the Stonewall Democrats of Western New York exist. With each of their elections, we will move one step closer to equal employment protections, gender expression non-discrimination, complete marriage equality and the entirety of LGBTQ civil rights. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the work you all do to make Stonewall Democrats what we are today. For each of you who’ve helped us lobby an official or candidate, gather letters, phonebank, canvass or supported our work in some way—I thank you. Because of you, we exist to endorse the best candidates for the LGBTQ community, work to elect them and pass the legislation which will make it better for our community in WNY and beyond. I thank you, and I look forward to the victories we will have with your work, your help and your vote on November 8.
All the best,