For just the third time in his 20 years as mayor, Republican Bob Corby is being challenged in the upcoming village elections, and Corby's opposition is coming from within the party ranks. This is the first time Corby has lost the backing of the GOP.
Bob Corby says he is a life-long Republican and has no plans on changing his party affiliation.
However, as he seeks a fifth term as Pittsford Village mayor, Corby is running on the Democratic, Conservative, and Pittsford United Village party lines. The mayor says he's disappointed Republicans are not backing his re-election bid.
"It's politics, so it is what it is. The gratifying thing is all of the support I have gotten throughout the village from hundreds of people literally that I've talked to in this election cycle and you can see where the signs are. That certainly, I think, says a lot," Corby said.
Village Trustee Trip Pierson, who also owns a Pittsford Real Estate agency, is challenging Corby. Like the mayor, Pierson's roots run deep within the community.
Pierson says after 20 years it's time for a change. He agrees that opposition to the incumbent coming from within the Republican Party is somewhat unusual.
"I'm a Republican. The Democrats called me up and asked if I'd be interested in running for mayor. I don't know if they would have nominated me but I said `no, I'm a Republican.' I'm not going to change who I am because it's the path of least resistance. That's part of the problem that we have," said Pierson.
At the forefront of this election is a residential development project at 75 Monroe Avenue. Mayor Corby doesn't believe it fits the character of the village, while Pierson says this project will be good for the community.
Corby was behind annexing the property from the Town of Pittsford so the village can control development there. Zoning was changed from commercial to residential.
Westport Crossing, as the project is officially called, will sit along the Erie Canal on the site of the former Monoco Oil asphalt plant. The size of the complex, 167-units, has Corby questioning the project's viability.
"There's many positive aspects to having development at 75 Monroe, the clean-up of the brownfields site, having a new use for that property that generates tax revenue. It just needs to be done in a way where it's a walkable neighborhood and where the physical character of the development suits the historic character of the village and the canal," said Corby.
Pierson doesn't believe Westport Crossing will take away from Pittsford's character and charm. Instead, it will be an economic boost.
"In order to have a thriving village, having 167 apartments in this village where we need to have a thriving business district is a win, that's a win for this village. That will help us continue moving forward and it will keep and preserve this municipality," Pierson said.
Voter will go to the polls March 19. Even though the race for mayor is garnering much of the attention, two Village Trustee seats are also on the ballot.