Election Showdown: The Four Hottest Races in WNY
This year’s General Election will be one to watch. There are actually four big races that require the
participation of African-American voters in Western New York. Incumbent Legislator Barbara Miller-
Williams is the victim of a political power play wherein she was denied the democratic line and
endorsement. Rev. Dion Watkins is running a write-in campaign for Mayor of Lackawanna after losing
the Democratic Primary in September. Mark Poloncarz and Chris Collins are in hotly-contested battle for
Erie County Executive. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster is seeking to become the first mayoral candidate
in over 20 years to win re-election.
Democratic Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams is being challenged by Tim Hogues and Joe Mascia. All
three are registered democrats, but each candidate is running on different party lines. Legislator Miller-Williams currently serves as the Chair of Erie County Legislature. She has been endorsed by Mayor Byron, most of the Black elected officials and Grassroots, Inc. This race is direct attack on Mayor Brown and his supporters by various factions within the Democratic Party. Last year, a similar effort was perpetrated again Rev. Darius Pridgen when he was denied the seat for Ellicott District Council Member.
Rev. Dion Watkins, a first time candidate for Mayor of Lackwanna, is running a write-in campaign.
Watkins was defeated in the Democratic Primary by 17 votes. He is seeking to become the city’s first
black Mayor. There are multiple candidates running in the race and Watkins, a local school and minister, is mounting a vigorous door to door campaign to get out the vote.
Mark Poloncarz and Chris Collins are competing for the top political job in Western New York.
Poloncarz, the current County Comptroller and a local attorney, is a Buffalo resident endorsed by the
Erie County Democrat Party. Collins is the current Erie County Executive, and the endorsed Republican
candidate. The race has been fueled by personal attacks. African-American voter turnout will play
critical role. There have been very minimal efforts to engage black voters by both candidates. The
delivery of social services, youth and senior programs, health clinics, day care services and much more
are impacted by the County Executive.
Mayor Paul Dyster is trying to break the trend in Niagara Falls. The Cataract City has not re-elected a
Mayor in over 20 years. The lack of continuity in the Mayor’s office has stifled job creation, economic
development and neighborhood restoration efforts. While there is an enrollment edge of democratic
voters, city residents consistently votes for both democrats and republicans.
Antoine M. Thompson is President of BlackWNY.com, a Licensed Real Estate Agent and a former State
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