Doctor of Law (J.D.)
SUNY Buffalo Law School, 2014
Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.), Accounting
City University of New York: Baruch College, 2003
Experience and Qualifications
As a CPA and an attorney, with a decade of professional experience, including extensive experience in community service, I can be trusted to be an effective comptroller from day one. The comptroller is the county's chief financial officer, who seeks to ensure effective use of our dollars, avoiding waste, fraud, and mismanagement. Who better to serve in that role than a Certified Public Accountant?
AFL-CIO, Stonewall Dems, Building Trades, CWA, CSEA, UAW, BEW, Tap Fund, WFP, Women's Equality
The best thing about the role of the comptroller is that when it is done effectively, it is apolitical. Numbers do not lie. So when a decision has to be made, the comptroller should be able to provide a realistic cost-benefit analysis, moving beyond rhetoric to show what will best serve our citizens. When waste is uncovered, it is undeniable. I am looking forward to offering these skills to Erie County, in order to help the individuals and families of our region thrive.
Erie County’s fiscal health has been improving. As we continue to recover from the 2008 financial crisis and undergo regional revitalization, we are better and better each year. However, that progress has been slowed significantly by the current comptroller. I have been reviewing the budget to identify pockets of potential waste, duplication, or misuse in order to perform meaningful evaluations from day one. Our fiscal health has been improving, and the comptroller office should accelerate that.
I have several concerns that I would address immediately upon entering office. One example is that our cash reserves (the tax dollars that Erie County residents entrust to their government) sit in an account that makes .065% interest. That’s lower than a typical personal savings account. I have identified an opportunity that would bring in an additional $400,000 annually. These earnings could fund programs that will make Erie a more livable place for families, and that is my highest priority.
The County’s budget is a complex 1.7 billion dollar document, funding operations across multiple agencies. The comptroller’s role is to make sure that income and expenses make sense. That includes the hard work of careful, efficient audits. Currently, audits are performed when they will influence political will. This does not protect taxpayer dollars, improve our efficiency, or enhance service delivery. The examples of waste are myriad--from overtime to litigation--and audits will help us save.
The cost of healthcare is the most important issue facing the County. Under the current federal administration, it seems likely that there will be significant cuts to both Medicaid and funding for women’s health services. In a County with many residents that live at or below the poverty line, this is extremely distressing. The same circumstances are likely to adversely affect ECMC, our region’s only Level I trauma center. We must be prepared, with a skilled public servant at the helm.
Bilingual Academy PS #33.
Performing Arts High School
Harvard University Executive Program for Elected Officials.
Experience and Qualifications
Journalist, Reporter and Anchor, focused on accountability for taxpayers for nearly 20 years. Small Business Owner and PR professional. Erie County Comptroller.
AFSCME Union, Buffalo PBA, Cheektowaga PBA, Sheriff PBA, Conservative, Ind, Reform Party
Externally, I am the “Taxpayer’s Watchdog,” and I work hard to bring checks and balances to Erie County Government through accountability and increased transparency. Under my leadership, we have a talented staff of CPA’s, MBA’s, CFA’s and Accountants that serve taxpayers. We resolve issues with open lines of communication and a staff of professionals committed to accuracy in their work. As Comptroller, my door is always open, my phone is always on and my team and I are always willing to help.
As your Chief Financial Officer, I routinely report to the Erie County Legislature on the status of county finances. In those reports, I often express caution about overspending. I do so because the county has a very heavy reliance on the performance of sales tax revenue. Unfortunately, its performance is largely out of our control. That factor often puts our fiscal health in jeopardy and it is difficult to plan for. In general, the administration needs to tax and spend less.
The county doesn't properly prioritize its spending and they tax too much. Taxpayers deserve better information about their government so they can monitor it. We post a weekly “Taxpayers’ Checkbook” that publicly posts checks the County of Erie pays out every week. The Government Financial Officers Association (GFOA) honored me for being the first Comptroller ever to produce a Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) that breaks down the budget in a way that’s easy for taxpayers to understand.
In order to save taxpayers money, the county needs to learn to better prioritize. If any issue rises to the point where it becomes an initiative or program and the county needs to fund it, they need to do so within their budget. The current answer is always to spend more money by taking more from taxpayers or raiding our savings account. The solution to the problems we face as a region can’t continue to be taking more money from an already over-taxed tax base.
I routinely meet with the County’s fiscal advisers, bankers, and their economists. They always tell me that Erie County has a great economic story to tell right now. Whether it is the Medical Corridor, our growing financial and insurance industry or improvements to the waterfront, our region is changing for the better. These changes are the result of taxpayers and small business owners investing in Erie County, and not politicians. My biggest fear is that government will screw it up.