Local leaders like that a candidate for governor is from Ontario County
Honeoye native Brian Kolb — a longtime Canandaigua resident, business owner and state legislator, is officially running for governor.
Assembly Minority Leader Kolb, a Republican first elected to the Assembly in 2000, made the announcement Tuesday via radio interview and social media splash on Facebook and Twitter. A video went live with Kolb’s campaign pitch. Calling for an end to scandals, high taxes and unemployment rates, Kolb spoke from a backdrop of scenes from across the state with everything from crowded New York City streets to the rolling hills and vineyards of the Finger Lakes. Kolb is shown strolling Main Street in his hometown of Canandaigua and greeting friends at the Patty’s Place diner in the city — plus, there's a quick flash of a street sign for the intersection of Chapin and Main.
Now with his sights on the governor’s seat, Kolb is zeroing in on what has long been his criticisms of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo involving corruption in the governor’s office, upstate’s loss of population, and economic development strategy.
Cuomo is seeking a third term in 2018, though he is considered a possible White House contender. Kolb is the first to officially announce a challenge for the governor’s seat. Other potential candidates include Democrat Stephanie Miner, the outgoing mayor of Syracuse; Republican businessman Harry Wilson; and Republican state Sen. John DeFrancisco of Syracuse.
“It’s exciting news for sure, someone from our own backyard,” said Ontario County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Marren, a Republican and Victor town supervisor.
Marren gave Cuomo credit, saying the governor “has invested funds and time in upstate.” But Marren agrees with Kolb in criticizing Cuomo’s approach to economic development — specifically, the governor’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative, which puts regions in competition with one another for millions of state dollars.
According to the governor’s office, the past six rounds have poured $506.1 million into the Finger Lakes region for 605 projects. The region ranks in the top two of 10 regions for receiving the most funds for the most projects.
Kolb said he would not pit regions against one another. As governor, he would allocate the same amount of funding for each region and the councils would determine how the money would be spent.
Marren said state funds are often awarded to larger counties and he sees Kolb recognizing this and taking steps to equal the playing field. Marren gave an example, mentioning the struggles Finger Lakes Community College has in receiving state funds while larger institutions such as University of Rochester reap more reward from Albany.
Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni, a Democrat, in responding to Kolb’s run for governor, first said she had hoped Kolb would run a primary against U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence. “We need someone in Washington,” she said. Though not aligned with Kolb in political party nor a critic of Cuomo, Polimeni said she wishes Kolb well.
“He certainly understands western New York,” the mayor said.
Kolb told the Messenger while exploring a run for governor this fall that Cuomo “is sitting on $26 million” but he wasn’t deterred by that. “You don’t have to raise the same amount of money, just enough to be competitive,” he said.
Marren said he doesn’t think the size of the campaign war chest is the factor it used to be.
“Today, with the media outlets and social media, it is about making contacts and not driven as much by money,” he said.