Mark Salvatore Pitifer, a Waterloo school district guidance counselor is looking to rebuild the community as Geneva’s mayor.
As an unaffiliated non-party candidate, Pitifer was still approached by the Republican Committee, but he thought that they mistook him for his politically-active son, Markie Christian Pitifer.
Pitifer shared, “Markie’s a Republican. I’m a no party candidate, so you have no control over me whatsoever. Are you sure that you want me?”
But before joining politics long ago, he reminisced about becoming the Geneva High School senior class president and starting post-secondary school at Finger Lakes Community College for physical education.
For Pitifer, he is filled with the most pride when harking back to his time at Hobart College, a graduate from the Class of 1982 and his anomalous arrival to the Colleges.
After graduating 223rd out of 260 at Geneva High School, he attended FLCC and Pitifer traveled to the Colleges’ campus to run on their track where he then encountered the famed Coach David J. Urick, who inspired him to eventually attend Hobart College as a student athlete.
“If I can do this, you can do this; and my journey to Hobart College is nothing short of miraculous,” Pitifer said.
With each group of students who participate in Project Hope, a program that Pitifer developed in Waterloo to motivate students who suffer from academic difficulties and apathy, he tells each of them that they can succeed too; and even shares his old sixth-grade transcripts and class comments as the written-proof for all of the obstacles that he had to face and overcome while in school.
By attending Hobart, Pitifer believes that he can be a “tremendous politician,” especially after learning empathy, an invaluable skillset that he has acquired through the interdisciplinary way of learning that he accredits the Colleges for fostering.
Transitioning from attending classes at the Colleges to paying taxes in Geneva was a humbling experience that presented alternative perspectives to Pitifer.
“Our taxes are sky high and one of the big reasons is high sky is because Hobart and William Smith Colleges owns all this property that cannot be taxed,” he explained.
As mayor, Pitifer hopes that the Colleges continue their generosity towards Geneva and recognizes the tax burden that affects the middle and lower-middle class.
If elected, Pitifer has plenty of ideas to keep the City of Geneva “going in the right direction.”
“I got engaged under those Willow trees at Seneca Lake. There’s is no way that I’m going to let anything happen to that lakefront on my watch. However, we got to do something and it’s gotta be about the lake,” he said.
That something for Pitifer is possibly moving the railroad storage area from along the lakeside and filling the space by constructing high-end condominiums that would not obscure the lakeview for residents but also block an area of land that he considers an “eyesore.”
Pitifer also says that hiring an economic developer would be worth the investment, “money well spent.”
But most of all, his greatest goal is to become the unifier for all of Geneva and Pitifer reflects upon his coaching career with the Geneva High School track program after transforming from a predominantly Caucasian low-enrollment sport into a diversified team of 100 students.
“I’m a unifier. That’s what I bring to the table,” he added.
“The Republican Party’s come to me; they’re endorsing me. I’m supposed to be this leader of their slate. However, in my heart, like, I have a connection with Stevie Valentino; and I have more of a connection with him than anybody on the slate, so that’s strange dynamics to begin with,” Pitifer said.
Whether there is one incumbent or none still standing following this November, Pitifer envisions that whoever comes-in alongside him will be his new team that shall be “fantastic.”
Pitifer mentioned his long-time friend in Democratic Party’s mayoral candidate Steve Valentino and how he wishes to run a respectable race, one without spewing any slander.
Despite all of their similarities and shared commonalities, Pitifer notes that there is still a difference between him and Valentino, putting aside all mutual respect.
“We’re both Italian kids that were brought up in Geneva. We have similar morals and values, how we were raised, but what he brings to the table is not what I bring to the table,” he said.
“I think I have different strengths than he does. That’s what differentiates us,” Pitifer added.
In closing, Pitifer promises that he will remain accessible to the community just like how he promises his Project Hope students.
“You can come to me, you’ll be able to call, you’ll be able to stop me in Wegmans, you’ll be able to meet me on the streets. I won’t change one bit,” he said.
“I’m a man of principle. I’m going to show this city, this county, this state, maybe even this country that you can win an election by being good and fair and accessible; and that’s what I’m bringing you Geneva. Welcome your son to do this one last thing for you. Who knows, you know me. Why not me?,” Pitifer concluded.
Listen to the full-conversation with Pitifer below:
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to WEOS and WHWS Station Manager Greg Cotterill for sharing Geneva Candidate Snapshots with FingerLakes1.com.
More from ‘Candidate Snapshot’ series exclusively on FingerLakes1.com:
– Juanita Aikens looks to bring better representation to Geneva City Hall (Ward 6)
– Bryan Housel brings public safety background to campaign for Geneva City Council (Ward 5)
– Pitifer takes life journey onto Geneva mayoral campaign trail (Mayor)
– Reporting & Photos by Gabriel Pietrorazio
An undergraduate student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Pietrorazio has written for the Town Times of Watertown, Connecticut and Finger Lakes Times in Geneva, New York. He’s currently a reporter for FL1 News, and can be reached at [email protected].