BUFFALO, N.Y. — As is often the case in high-profile races, the new attack ads in the Erie County Executive race don't fully pass our 'Truth Test'.

Each of the candidates has a major theme against the other. For Dixon, it's portraying Poloncarz as a big spender who has raised taxes during his time in office.

"Everyone knows our taxes are too high except Mark Poloncarz," the ad says. "Property taxes skyrocketed under his watch, increasing by more than 24%."

That attack does not give the full story.

The total amount of money brought in from the Erie County property tax has gone up about 24% since 2013, with an average 4% increase per year; however, the Poloncarz team points out the tax rate has gone down since he took office.

  • 2012 - $5.03 (per $1,000 of assessed value)
  • 2013 - $5.03
  • 2014 - $5.03
  • 2015 - $4.99
  • 2016 - $4.96
  • 2017 - $4.95
  • 2018 - $4.95
  • 2019 - $4.84
  • 2020 - $4.72

So how did the tax levy go up if the rate went down? One explanation is an increase in property values.

"Assessment growth is a sign that there is growth in a community," Poloncarz's campaign manager told 2 On Your Side. "We have more business and more homes on the tax roll."

Poloncarz's main attack on Dixon centers around her voting record as a member of the Erie County Legislature.

"Lynne Dixon voted with (former County Executive) Chris Collins more than 600 times," the commercial claims.

Once again that does not tell the full story.

Disgraced former Congressman Collins served as Erie County Executive from Jan. 2008 through Dec. 2011, meaning Dixon -- who joined the Erie County Legislature in 2010 -- served with him for 2 years. During that time, she did vote to approve more than 600 of his "executive items", but the vast majority of those votes were for non-controversial items that received unanimous support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

"It's complete deceit on his part to voters, and he knows it," said Dixon's campaign manager, who shared data with 2 On Your Side showing Democratic Legislator Maria Whyte -- who is now Poloncarz's deputy county executive -- also voted with Collins a lot: 94% of the time.

One of the attacks on Dixon's voting record is especially problematic.

"A vote slashing daycare funding," the commercial asserts.

That's false.

There was no vote in the Erie County Legislature to slash daycare funding. In 2010, Collins made a change administratively that changed the eligibility rules, which removed some people from a program meant to help struggling families. There was bipartisan criticism at the time.

The vote the Poloncarz spot appears to be referencing was on a resolution that condemned Collins' decision. It went before lawmakers on January 7, 2010, and Dixon voted against it.

At the next meeting on January 21, 2010, Dixon voted for a resolution that said, among other things, that the Erie County Legislature went on record "as opposed to the curtailing of the childcare subsidy." It passed unanimously.

As far as Dixon's connection to Chris Collins and the Republican party, Dixon has repeatedly claimed to be non-partisan.

"I'm not a Republican," she says in a commercial. "I'm not a Democrat. I'm an independent."

That's false.

Dixon is not an independent. She is registered with the Independence Party, one of quite a few minor political parties in New York State. Dixon has a conservative voting record, she caucuses with Republicans in the legislature and she has the GOP's full-throated support for the election.

These issues are likely to come up during the Erie County Executive debate that WGRZ will host with The Buffalo News, WNED and WBFO on Thursday, October 17 at 7 p.m. It will air live on Channel 2 as well as the websites and Facebook pages of all of the host organizations.

If you have a question you want to be asked, send it to debate@wgrz.com or tweet using #ECDebate.

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