December 2, 2021

Faceoff for Cortland mayor

A current Cortland councilperson focused on infrastructure and improving city neighborhoods faces a business owner who is focused on transparency and accountability for the city of Cortland’s mayoral election.

Democrat Bruce Tytler faces Republican Scott Steve for the seat, looking to succeed Democrat Brian Tobin, the city’s longest-serving mayor, who decided to step down after five terms.

Tytler previously served as mayor from 2000 to 2001 after serving on the Common Council. He was elected again to the council in 2019.

Steve owns Scott Steve Builders, which provides business development, consulting and other services. He also serves as a commissioner on the city Zoning Board of Appeals and served on the Cortland County Legislature from 2002 to 2005, including two years as its chairman.

Tytler said he has four priorities: infrastructure, economic development, making neighborhoods safe and equity for all.

Tytler said he wants to continue the work of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, including installing new pipes under Main Street, and the work of the Clinton, Groton and Homer Avenue revitalization projects.

He also wants to work with small businesses and the Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency to seek opportunities to help underrepresented groups establishand grow businesses.

Tytler said he would develop loan programs for people to repair sidewalks near their homes along with the homes themselves. This would include using American Rescue Plan Act money to create a $100,000 loan fund. People would be able to borrow between $2,000 to $3,000 with a match by the city.

Additionally, a $100,000 loan fund would be created for home repairs, allowing people to borrow up to $5,000 at 1% interest, he said.

“It’s a challenge, but I think we’re up to it,” Tytler said. “We can do it.”

These programs, he said, will feed into his fourth priority: making the city equitable for all citizens.

Furthermore, he will work to continue the work of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 to oversee police reform.

“I’ve done this job before and I know how hard it is,” Tytler said. “Good leaders, I believe, listen and I do that.”

Steve said his top priorities are improving city transparency and accountability.

Important financial details, like costs of projects and where the money is coming from in the city’s budget, aren’t included during Common Council meetings, like converting the former ParkerElementary School into an early child care center, he said.

Additionally, he noted how the city doesn’t have the cost for the scope of work happening with the DRI.

“Accountability is not taking on projects where you have no idea where the money is comingfrom, and what the cost is for taxpayers,” he said.

Steve said he would present to the public at one meeting a month a financial report of city work, including total costs and where the money is coming from, and if the city is over or under that cost.

Additionally, he seeks to have fewer executive sessions at Common Council meetings than Tobin did, making more of the actions happen in front of the public.

Steve also wants to improve quality of life, such as assisting the police department and making sure they have all they need to function properly, along with cleaning up trash and improving street work planning so major streets aren’t under construction at the same time as their most likely detours.

One way to help with traffic problems created by street work would be to create an online calendar to show where work is planned around the city, he said. He also wants to create a dog park or other ways to entice people to Cortland.

“I have fresh ideas to implement and work on instead of the same old process that’s been going on for years,” Steve said.

He noted that with all the infrastructure work happening in the city, “My experience is probably the most important factor Tytler does not have.”