One job for Canisius political science professor Kevin Hardwick, Ph. D., has just finished, but a new one is right on the horizon.
On Tuesday night, Dr. Hardwick was elected as the next comptroller of Erie County, defeating Republican Lynne Dixon by approximately 12,000 votes. He replaces Stefan Mychajliw, who has held the position since 2012 and ran for Hamburg town supervisor this election cycle. Hardwick has been an Erie County legislator since 2009, representing the Town of Tonawanda, the City of Tonawanda as well as Grand Island.
The job of a county comptroller is to essentially be the chief financial officer for the county and make sure bills are paid, but Dr. Hardwick will also conduct audits and issue reports about departments within the county. He will be working closely with the Erie County executive to make sure all of that happens.
“There’s a great deal of leeway, too, about what the comptroller can do. I vowed for the office, under my administration, being the hub of independent policy and analysis,” Hardwick said.
It is Hardwick’s goal to remove personal politics from the office, something that he said had happened during Mychajliw’s term.
“The biggest one I promised to effect is a culture change within the office. For the past several years, the current comptroller has opposed everything that the county executives try to do: [he] has been fighting with other departments, especially the health department — in the middle of a pandemic — and it has just got to stop,” Hardwick said. “The personal politics have to be removed from that office and that begins at the top. I’ll make it clear on day one that the important work of that office done by the career civil servants will not be subject to politics.”
Being elected is a big relief for Hardwick, as it would be for anyone running for office. His campaign lasted nearly a year, officially beginning with a video release on Jan. 10 after about a month of planning. He said that election night is the toughest part of the campaign.
“The worst part of any campaign is the last hour as the polls are getting ready to close and then waiting for the results, because there’s nothing you can do. If your opponent attacks you, as I was attacked several times during the campaign, you can do something. You can get mad and you can respond,” Hardwick said. “There’s absolutely nothing you can do after the polls close or as they’re about to close. You’ve done everything you can and you hope that it’s enough.”
Hardwick taught classes at Canisius during his campaign, which he said was beneficial to his students. His teaching duties will become limited during his four-year term as comptroller, but he is hoping to teach at least a little bit.
“I’m in the middle of it, and I think any time you can personalize concepts that you have been teaching for years, I think it helps students relate and digest material,” he said.
Hardwick officially begins his term on Jan. 1, 2022.