December 1, 2021

Scott Steve wins Cortland mayor’s race

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Republican Scott Steve hugs Cortland County GOP Chairwoman Connie White on Tuesday after the announcement that Scott defeated Democrat Bruce Tytler for Cortland mayor, the first time since 1983 that a Republican has won the city's top post. 11/2/2021

Scott Steve won the Cortland mayoral race Tuesday, bringing a Republican victory to the top city seat for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Steve defeated Bruce Tytler, promising to focus on transparency, cleaner streets and easier road construction as he succeeds Mayor Brian Tobin, who steps down after five terms.

The complete, but unofficial tally was 1,289 to 1,075. Another 403 absentee ballots were sent out, but not all may have been returned.

“We’re going to next Tuesday ‘till this election is certified,” said Tim Perfetti, the Cortland County Democratic chairman, after checking the results.

“It’s a bit overwhelming, I’m excited and I think it’s a great community we live in,” Steve said. “It’s good to see that people in our community care and want to see good things happen, I’m excited to make good things happen.”

This is the first time a Republican candidate has won the mayoral race in the city of Cortland since 1984.

“It’s not about party politics, it’s about going the right thing,” Steve said. “That’s what’s important to me.”

“This is not the result I was looking for, obviously,” said Tytler as he watched the votes come in before the final count from polling places. “We had a great team.”

Voting for mayor was the most important thing on Steven Williams’ agenda Tuesday.

“One of the main races, where there actually is a race, is the mayoral race,” said Williams, 34. While the mayor and Ward 5 council races were contested on Williams’ ballot, the state Supreme Court justices, Cortland County coroners and Cortland County constable races were not.

Placing making clean air, pure water and a healthy environment a right in the State Constitution — Referendum 2 — was also important to Williams.

“I favor clean air and water,” he said. “What brings about the greatest amount of democracy is what’s important to me.”

Good roads were also a priority to Gary Hollenbeck, 40.

“The roads need to be fixed because every time I hit a pothole, I need a whole new tire,” he said.

While road construction on Clinton Avenue was a nuisance for some voters, the Cortland County Board of Elections reported more ballots cast at the State Grange polling place than several other city polling places.

“Compared to other sites in the city, the Grange is doing well,” said Republican Election Commissioner Robert C. Howe. “We had signs up. People got in and voted.’”
John Knobel of Brown Avenue was annoyed, but undeterred.

“It was a pain in the butt,” said Knobel. “The Hubbard street sign said ‘road closed’ and I said, ‘I know I can get through there.’”

Steve, the owner of Scott Steve Builders, also served as a commissioner on the city Zoning Board of Appeals and as Cortland County legislator from 2002 to 2005, including two years as chairman.

Steve campaigned on increasing city government’s transparency, reducing the number of executive sessions, and laying out financial details in a monthly Common Council report.
Reducing litter, as well as creating a dog park and staggering street construction so detours are easily accessible were platform planks.

Tytler’s campaign focused on infrastructure, economic development, neighborhood safety and equity. While Tytler was elected to council in 2019, he was also mayor from 2000 to 2001.
Developing a loan program to help city homeowners repair their properties and sidewalks, focusing on police oversight, as well as utilizing the Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency to help minority residents create and expand businesses, were part of Tytler’s equality agenda.

Staff Reporter Valerie Puma contributed to this report.