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Erie County comptroller will now be a Democrat, as Hardwick defeats Dixon

Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick speaks during a Sept. 23, 2021 legislative hearing.
Tom Dinki
Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick speaks during a Sept. 23, 2021 legislative hearing.

Erie County will once again have a Democratic comptroller, as Republican-turned-Democrat Kevin Hardwick won a heated race to be the county’s next financial watchdog Tuesday.

Hardwick, a county legislator and Canisius College political science professor, earned 52.5% of the vote, compared to Republican-endorsed Lynne Dixon’s 46.6%.

With Democrat Mark Poloncarz in the executive office, it will be the first time in more than three decades that the county executive and elected county comptroller are members of the same party.

Poloncarz often butts heads with the current Republican comptroller, Stefan Mychajliw, who did not seek reelection and instead failed to win the Hamburg town supervisor race Tuesday. 

But Hardwick himself was a Republican until 2019. He has said he was turned off by what he called a toxic environment in the county’s Republican Caucus and their unwillingness to compromise with Democrats.

Hardwick’s past as a Republican was a major attacking point for Dixon. Her campaign even mailed out “Make Erie County Great Again” mailers accusing Hardwick of supporting former President Donald Trump. Her campaign was criticized for making the mailers appear to be from Hardwick himself.

Dixon, a former county legislator who ran for county executive in 2019, has been working in the comptroller’s office under Mychajliw since 2020.

Hardwick has said he wants to bring a culture change to the comptroller’s office, making it less political than it is under Mychajliw, who regularly releases videos on social media criticizing Poloncarz.

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.