Tobe to be Deputy County Executive

County Executive-elect Poloncarz has appointed Richard Tobe to be his Deputy County Executive. Tobe is a lawyer and held the Erie County post of Commissioner of Environment and Planning for a decade, and was Mayor Byron Brown’s Commissioner for Economic Development until 2008.

During the County Executive campaign, Poloncarz said that his deputy would be a “jobs czar”, concentrating on growing the economy and job creation.  From the press release:

Poloncarz stated, “As I have said, my Deputy County Executive’s will focus on job creation and creating a streamlined, sustainable and efficient approach to economic development in Erie County.  This position required an individual that not only had a proven track record of successfully navigating the often turbulent local economic development process but who could also help create a better system for tomorrow. Today, I am proud to announce Richard Tobe will serve in that role.  It is time that Erie County taxpayers see a return on the investment of their tax dollars into economic development initiatives that show results.  Richard’s decades of successful and multi-faceted economic development experience in the public and private sectors make him the perfect choice to lead these efforts.”

Transition Chairman Michael Joseph added, “The County Executive-elect has made an excellent choice in recruiting Rich Tobe to serve the county. Mr. Tobe’s decades of public service in economic development and planning, including a lead role in negotiating complex deals and public infrastructure projects makes him an ideal candidate to serve in the key role as Deputy County Executive.”

Mr. Tobe has more than 30 years of economic development experience in the public and private sectors as well as academia.  During his 12 years serving the Gorski administration as Commissioner of Environment and Planning, Tobe led the County’s successful effort to negotiate a new long-term lease agreement with the Buffalo Bills, and construct the Buffalo Sabres’ arena (now First Niagara Center) in downtown Buffalo, while serving as the point-person with New York State and local municipalities on economic development initiatives.

Since then Tobe has served as an adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Planning and School of Law, Vice President of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and Commissioner of the City of Buffalo’s Department of Economic Development, Permit and Inspection Services.

Tobe said, “I am supremely honored to serve County Executive-elect Poloncarz as the Deputy County Executive.  I strongly agree with the County Executive-elect that, for too long, Erie County has been devoid of a cohesive and focused economic development strategy.  I know and love this community and I am confident that by working together with local, state and federal economic development agencies and by leveraging our abundance of resources and strategic location we can realize real, sustainable growth.”


  • Was not Mr. Tobe fired by the Casey/Brown Administration a few years back? I think someone is definitely being sent a message.

  • Sue, I don’t see Tobe’s appointment as sending a message, per se. He was an all-around excellent choice — as Mark said, folks kept suggesting he appoint a “Rich Tobe-type person.”

    That said, there was indeed a telling statement made during the announcement, according to WNED (see link below, last paragraph). Perhaps in response to a question from WNED or another reporter, Mark addressed Tobe’s abbreviated stay at City Hall (under the Brown administration), saying it:

    wasn’t because of his work but because of problems in the mayor’s office, especially with regard to Deputy Mayor Steve Casey.

    Something tells me that Casey’s relationship with the new County administration won’t be as tight as with the current.

  • Mark couldnt have chosen a better person. Congradulations Richard.

  • Retread chair shuffling. Was Erie County’s or the City of Buffalo’s economic development so dynamic during his past tenures that we’re rehiring based upon his track record of success? How many times do we appoint the same names to similar positions and expect new results? Less than inspiring start.

    • While I’m usually onboard with the “find some new voices” crowd, I like this choice. Rich Tobe is a very smart guy with incredible team-building and organizational skills. I’ve worked closely with him on several projects and I was thoroughly impressed with his ability to overcome rancor, partisanship, and factional thinking and build a consensus. The job Poloncarz is asking him to do is to get “all the wood behind one arrow”, as it were, to unify our development efforts. He’ll then work with that team to build a long term strategy and execute. I think Rich is a guy who is blessed with the ability to see the big picture and ignore the daily political battles. As I understand it, his time working with the Mayor was quite unpleasant and he wasn’t given the latitude to do his job as the Mayor and Steve Casey pigeonholed him in permits and inspections more than economic development.

  • The more things change, the more they stay the same. What an uninspired choice.

  • Mark is putting together a very progressive team, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m impressed that Mark doesn’t seem to feel it necessary to conduct a search to fill some key positions — I’ve come to believe very strongly that we have the expertise right here in WNY to turn around WNY. It’s just a matter of getting the right people in the right positions with the right leadership.

  • Why not put Bruce Fisher back in the job? He and Giambra did such an awesume job!
    Poop dreams should never fade.

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