The two major candidates for Erie County executive will square off Oct. 17 in a televised debate expected to serve as a highlight of the 2019 campaign.
Incumbent Democrat Mark C. Poloncarz will meet Lynne M. Dixon, an Independence Party county legislator from Hamburg also running as the Republican candidate, in the one-hour event beginning at 7 p.m.
Sponsored by The Buffalo News, WGRZ-TV Channel 2, and WNED-TV/WBFO Radio, the debate will be broadcast live over WGRZ-TV and WNED-TV from the WNED studios. In addition, the debate will be available live online at WBFO.org, BuffaloNews.com, WGRZ.com and Facebook Live.
“Decision 2019: The Race for Erie County Executive” will be moderated by veteran newsman Brian Meyer. Panelists include reporters Robert J. McCarthy and Sandra Tan of The News, Steve Brown of Channel 2, and News Director Dave Debo of WBFO.
The four panelists will quiz the candidates with rotating questions, including follow-up questions. Candidates will be afforded opening and closing statements, then will provide one-minute answers to initial questions and 30-second answers to optional follow-ups.
Both candidates have agreed to a series of debates and public forums, including another televised event sponsored by WIVB-TV Channel 4 on Oct. 9, and the annual affair hosted by St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute on Oct. 18.
The debate occurs during a crucial time of the fall election when most observers say voters begin to pay close attention. Both candidates have frequently appeared on television for the past several weeks, mostly in paid commercials but in few news stories.
Now the candidates are gaining more "earned media" through coverage in newspapers, radio, television and the internet. The televised debates are expected to draw a significant number of viewers and could help sway undecided voters just weeks before Election Day on Nov. 5 , though New York also implemented early voting this year.
Both candidates have also maintained a rigorous campaign schedule, with appearances at various events around the county.