Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Small Talk
Next story: Salvador Dali's Surreal Cookbook at the Castellani Art Museum

Patrick Burke - Candidate for Erie County Legislature

Patrick Burke

Candidate for Erie County Legislature

Pat Burke is a wild card in a game of proxy poker being played between the county’s Democratic Party chairman, Jeremy Zellner, and Zellner’s rival, Cheektowaga Democatic Party chairman Frank Max. Burke, a South Buffalo Democrat, is running a primary race for the Erie County Legislature’s 7th District seat against two Cheektowaga-based Democrats: Lynn Dearmyer, Zellner’s candidate, and Rick Zydel, Max’s candidate. Burke figures he’ll carry his native South Buffalo with enough votes to beat the other two, who will be busy splitting Cheektowaga. It’s a plausible strategy that may work: He has the endorsement of Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder, a popular South Buffalo Democrat­, he’s raising money and knocking on doors. Because the wild card sometimes wins the hand, we thought we’d ask Burke about his candidacy and his issues.

What’s your take on the planned new building for ECC North? Does it make more sense on that campus or downtown?

There shouldn’t be an ECC North at all. Let alone an expansion of the facility. We need one consolidated campus in the City of Buffalo. I’m not willing to continue down the path of bad, suburban-oriented policies that have plagued our region for over 60 years now. At some point you have to draw a line in the sand, and I think the health sciences expansion is that battleground. We need to become a city-focused region and push back against these policies of sprawl that have made operating Erie County so expensive. One consolidated ECC campus in downtown Buffalo with first-class programs is a vital step to this approach.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz argues it would be too expensive to build the same structure downtown.

It may be cheaper short-term, but continuing with three campuses will cost us more in the long run. I’d like someone to show me where it’s cheaper to operate three independent campuses rather then one consolidated campus, because I haven’t seen it. The very notion is ridiculous.

You responded to a recent county comptroller’s report on projected sales tax revenue by saying the comptroller was missing the point. “We rely too heavily on sales tax revenue,” you said. “It’s unpredictable and it’s unfair to Erie County’s poorest residents.” Can you elaborate?

Instead of attacking the county executive, I felt he should have pointed out the flaw in relying too heavily on such an unstable revenue stream. I’m sick of political rhetoric, I want leaders with solutions.

Any flat tax such as sales tax disproportionately burdens people of moderate to low income.

There is one overlying and expensive issue in Erie County, and it’s that we are subsidizing suburban sprawl. It’s very expensive to pay for the vast county highway system and it’s expensive to pay for sheriff’s patrols for municipalities who opt not to have a police force. These places do not operate in reality. They should be responsible for the true cost of living in the outer-ring suburbs. The City of Buffalo gets zero county road designations and we don’t have sheriff’s patrols—why are we paying for our own demise by making it cheap to live in the suburbs?

If we reduced our spending and made it more equitable between the city and the suburbs, I think we could reduce the sales tax. We may also need to look into how we split the sales tax revenue with towns and villages.

I’m also intrigued by the notion of municipal ownership. If places like North Dakota can profit off of their own banking system or places like Chattanooga, Tennessee can profit off of their own broadband service, why can’t we?

What other issues are important to you?

Giving the city fair representation: Currently, of the 11 county legislators, only two are city residents.

Putting teeth back into the Department of Environment and Planning, because we’re losing precious agricultural land.

Developing a regional planning board, because it’s crazy not to have one.

Pushing for CSEA to get a fair contract, because they’re getting screwed.

Democratic politics in Erie County are a train wreck. Where do you fit into the picture?

It’s all nonsense and I’m glad to be independent of it all. Perhaps being neutral will allow me to help find a solution once elected.

Finally, the general questions: Why do you want this job? Why should people vote for you?

It’s a dream job. Who wouldn’t want a job where their sole purpose is to make people’s lives better? People should vote for me because I know what I’m talking about and I have the conviction to see things through. I’d say I’m honest but nobody believes a politician when they say that.

Learn more at or at two upcoming Burke campaign events: Friday, August 23, 7-9pm at the Hop Inn (317 Hopkins Street, Buffalo) and Friday, August 30, 7-9pm, at Blue Monk (727 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo).

blog comments powered by Disqus