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Poloncarz statement on Legislator Hardwick's decision to join Democratic caucus

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Tue, Dec 18th 2018 04:55 pm

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz issued the following statement Tuesday regarding the decision of Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick (4th District) to join the legislature’s Democratic caucus:

“I have known professor Kevin Hardwick for many years and, while we have not always agreed on matters of policy, I have always known him to be a man of principle, an honest negotiator and a hardworking legislator focused on meeting the needs of his constituents. Professor Hardwick was elected to the legislature in 2009 and throughout that time he has been a respectful and articulate man of his word, not given to the bullying, threats and posturing that seem to dominate the minority caucus today.

“While he and I did not discuss his decision to leave the minority caucus prior to his announcing it, I am certain that as a lifelong Republican it was not an easy decision for him to make. Professor Hardwick was elected to the legislature in 2009, a legislator in the Jack Kemp-Jack Quinn model who, like other moderate consensus-building republicans, has realized that his party has left him behind. In those nearly 10 years as a legislator he has acted with thoughtfulness, character and integrity, traits that apparently no longer have a place in the minority caucus.

“When faced with a caucus that was determined to create a budgetary hole that would harm county finances for years to come, professor Hardwick understood that responsible adult decisions needed to be made and he joined in a bipartisan manner with his legislative colleagues to craft a budget that delivers the largest property tax rate decrease seen in Erie County in over a decade along with increased funding for roads. No secret political ‘deals’ were made, no nefarious ‘quid pro quos’ took place, just a small group of individuals who were willing to work weekends and evenings together to hash out a fiscally prudent budget. While others refused to work across the aisle, Legislator Hardwick put the people ahead of leaders in the Republican and minor parties and went to work, whatever it took.

“Now the minority leader and the comptroller are rabidly attacking professor Hardwick, claiming that he ‘struck a deal’ and ‘sold out’ his caucus by working to actually do the people’s business. On the contrary, Legislator Hardwick is an example of a public servant who knows the right thing to do and does it. As a professor of political science, professor Hardwick knows compromise and bipartisanship are not bad things but rather are essential to creating a responsible, balanced budget. I welcomed professor Hardwick’s input during the budget process and look forward to working with him in the future.”

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