For at least the past 40 years, the Pittsford Town Board has been exclusively Republican.
Democrats are out-registered by Republicans in the town. Monroe County Board of Elections figures show that Pittsford has 6,259 Democrats and 7,439 Republicans. (The town also has 4,854 voters not registered to any party). In 2011, Democrats didn't run candidates for Town Board, and in 2009 its candidates lost by significant margins.
But the party is giving it another shot by chasing two Town Board seats this year. Terry Steg and Pam Cooper-Vince are challenging incumbent Republicans Jared Lusk and Mary Gehl Doyle. But when it comes to convincing voters to back away from the status quo, they may have their work cut out for them.
Pittsford has a strong property base, so taxes aren't terribly high. And the town hasn't seen much controversy, save an initiative by former Supervisor Bill Carpenter that changed the role of the town Historic Preservation Commission, giving some of the commission's most significant duties to a new Design Review Board. As part of that plan, the Architectural Review Board was eliminated and the duties transferred to the new board.
On Friday, Steg and Cooper-Vince held a press conference to announce their campaigns. But earlier in the week I'd reached out to them to find out issues they planned to focus on.
While they touched on the importance of preserving community character and open space as well as keeping taxes down, their main focus is on transparency. They say they see a lack of public deliberation by the board, which they say is evidence that the board is doing its business behind closed doors. The board has met for little more than eight hours so far this year and held 167 votes, they say, and all passed unanimously.
"The only conclusion we can draw from these alarming facts is that the Pittsford Town Board conducts virtually all of the people's business behind closed doors and out of the public view," the candidates wrote.