[10/30/21 Patrick Reilly greeting (l-r) Lily, Jessica and Finn Harter Photo: David Kramer]
During this election season, I walked with Rajesh Barnabas (D, WF), Monroe County Legislature candidate (24th District), Albert Blankley (D), the other candidate for the same seat, Robin Wilt (D, WF), candidate for re-election to the Brighton Town Board, Van White (D, Monroe County Judge) and Brighton Town Councilmember Christine Corrado (D) as they canvassed in my Brighton neighborhood for the June 22nd primary election. [SEE ALL ARTICLES AT END]
On Saturday, I canvassed with Patrick Reilly (R), candidate for Brighton Town Council. Patrick rolled up with he calls the “Balance Mobile.” One friend loaned him the van; while another friend, a “wrapper” applied the stickers. Pat said next week, win, lose or draw, the stickers get pealed off and the van returned.Pat showed me his Brighton Walking List, explaining the Republican Party has an extensive database on potential voters, as do all modern political campaigns. The database helps him identify “squishy or persuadable Dems.” The elderly tend to be persuadable, as do brand new voters. The demographic data includes income, interests, and purchases. For example, Pat finds that outdoorsmen are noticeably amenable to his message.
On the drizzly morning, only a few voters were home. One Republican said he didn’t need Pat’s literature because he voted early, adding that Republicans in Brighton are few and far between. Pat reassured him that he could really win this thing. Another “persuadable Dem,” had also already voted. Pat was tempted to ask for whom, but held back.
Mostly, we talked about his experience as a first time candidate who was never closely involved in Republican politics until this February. Pat was more surprised than not that this election had become quite a high profile affair, adding that he’s learned more about Brighton in six months that he knew in 21 years.
Pat’s thick skin has come in handy when he takes criticism from all sides. Some say he is a one issue pro-Israel candidate; while others accuse him of anti-semitism. Some say he is a fervent anti-vaxer. Actually, his entire family is double vaccinated, although he thinks some mandates have done more harm than good.
Others see his slogan “Restore Balance to Brighton” or even another version “Restore Civility to Brighton” as an indication that Pat is a fervent Trumper. Actually, Pat distances himself from Trump. He did strongly support Trump in 2016, but much less so in 2020. Pat thinks Trump was scattered and often ineffectual in his pandemic response, and was disappointed in Trump’s behavior from about four days after the election up to finally leaving office. While a staunch Republican, Pat hopes Trump does not run in 2024 and would not vote for him in the primaries.
Pat added that if he wins, he’ll put the same energy into holding the office as he has into the campaign in this election that is sure to be close.
Q and A
Talker: Tell us about your personal and professional lives?
Reilly: I am a lifelong New Yorker, born in NYC, who moved to Rochester 25 years ago. After getting married my wife Kim and I moved to Brighton a little over 21 years ago to start a family, where we raised our four wonderful children. I spent the majority of my free time in the last 13 years as a Boy Scout leader, hiking, canoeing, and camping frequently in the Adirondacks. I am a telecom executive by trade where I run a $60 million dollar business unit inside a larger telecommunications company.
Talker: When reflecting upon your own philosophy of governance, which leaders or thinkers are influential? What are your primary sources of information? What inspired you to run for Town Board?
Reilly: Likely because of my age at the time, Ronald Reagan was the political leader who had the most influence on my foundational thinking about what to look for in our public servants. I get my general news from the major news sources, but take in information from a large variety of sources… I listen to a lot of AM radio, mostly WHAM, WYSL and NPR and then absorb a lot of information by directly following individual reporters at the local, state and national level on social media. I also spend a lot of time reading opinion pieces from a host of sites, with frequent go to’s being National Review and The Federalist.
I was inspired to run for Town Board because I became very discouraged with what I was seeing coming from our leaders in Washington D.C. I decided that we needed to stop waiting for solutions to trickle down to us from our national leaders, and instead a new group of non-politicians needed to get involved in politics at the local level and do the hard work that has to happen to heal our society.
Talker: Your campaign slogan is “Restore Balance to Brighton?” As I understand it, you feel one party rule is detrimental. Until about 1990, Brighton the Brighton Town Council was almost entirely Republican. What makes one party rule more detrimental today than it was in previous decades? As a Councilmember what steps will you take to restore that balance.
Reilly: I think regardless of party, when you have one party rule the most extreme elements of that party tend to set the agenda, which we have seen play out here in Brighton. I don’t have much personal experience in town before 1990 but I think the same thing happened back then, specifically issues on the topic of sidewalks from what I understand. There is a tendency with one party rule to not challenge your own ideas, to believe your way must be the best, and it inherently leads to elected officials losing touch with all the people they represent. I believe I will be able to bring a diversity of thought to the Board that will benefit not only the residents, but the functioning of the Board itself.
Talker: We’ve seen many of your lawn signs saying “Democrats for Reilly.” As a Republican, what do you offer Democrats?
Reilly: I offer Democrats a reasoned approach to politics, and an ability to listen to both sides of an issue and find the areas of mutual agreement. I have learned long ago, in politics and in business that starting out any conversation, or contract negotiation, by dismissing the concerns of the other party is a failed approach. Instead I have an approach, molded in large part by my business career, which is results-oriented and avoids the trap of making the perfect the enemy of the good.
Talker: I asked Councilmember Robin Wilt if she thought her role was to focus on Brighton or to also speak out on local and national issues that she feels are important and/or effect her constituents? What’s your position?
Reilly: The focus of a town board needs to be on local, and specifically not national, issues. There is way too much that divides us these days, and local politics needs to be removed from that. Some talk about reaching across the aisle, I think we need to make the Brighton Town Board one that does not have an aisle.
Talker: Councilmember Christine Corrado serves on the “Envision Brighton 2028” Comprehensive Plan Update planning committee. To what degree do you think its vision of Brighton been realized? Do we even need a Comprehensive Plan?
Reilly: I absolutely believe we need a Comprehensive Plan, and more than that feel strongly that anyone who invests in our town in line with that plan should be allowed to fast track through our various approval processes that often are too long and arduous stifling investment in Brighton. The plan should incorporate re-envisioning the Monroe Avenue corridor, a potential artery connecting Brighton with the City, and focus on how we can take better advantage of our two underutilized assets, the Canal and the Genesee River. It’s also not enough just to have a plan we need to make sure we actually convert that plan into actionable steps we can take to improve Brighton for all of our residents.
Talker: We’ve been hearing so much at the national and state levels about election fraud and election security. How confident are you that this local election will be run fairly?
Reilly: I have served as an Election Site Inspector here in Monroe County, and overall I believe the process is a very good one and results in fair elections. The key to this is ensuring we have enough election poll workers, from both major parties, to agree to serve in this way. The process is designed to work assuming we are properly staffed, and we now face a challenge making sure we can recruit those volunteers.Talker: What aspects of Brighton do you most like? What makes us a great town?
Reilly: I see Brighton as a diverse and welcoming community that offers an outstanding opportunity for people to come and raise a family. Good schools, safe streets, plenty of faith based institutions, and an overall great community atmosphere.