He makes a point to call himself “a public servant, not a politician,” but soon Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett won’t be either.
Corbett is not seeking re-election in the March 21 village election, after four years as mayor following six as a trustee. A new work opportunity, he said, was too good to resist.
“Even though being mayor is like three full-time jobs, it’s viewed only as a part-time job,” Corbett said. “An opportunity in my professional career has just arisen, and I have an obligation to my family. It would not be fair to my wife and children to not act upon that opportunity.”
Corbin, an attorney, was appointed a trustee in 2014, and elected mayor in 2019. A Democrat, he ran unsuccessfully for the 4th Congressional District seat in November.
Just under a year after he was sworn in as mayor, the coronavirus pandemic upended village operations. Corbett shepherded Malverne through the pandemic while obtaining a local grant from the Town of Hempstead to modernize those operations.
“When I came into office, we were still running payroll on paper and pencil,” Corbett recalled on Monday, crediting the Town of Hempstead and Supervisor Don Clavin for the grant.
Corbett noted his other achievements as mayor: the smallest tax increase over any four-year period in the Malverne’s history; a five-year capital improvement plan, which was extended by two years; paving 82 percent of village roads; and receiving more grant money in four years than in the past 20.
He was quick to recognize village department heads and officials. “It’s not easy to get department heads to believe in what you’re selling,” he said. “I give them all the credit. They saw I was credible and had a plan that made sense, and they bought into it.”
The village lost $1.8 million in court revenue, Corbett said, because of Covid-19, but still managed a $2 million surplus when village departments and officials worked together to restructure parts of the budget.
His ability to work with different personalities throughout the village and its government was key, Corbett said. He pointed to one incident in particular as evidence.
During the pandemic, with Plexiglas in demand, the village received an estimate of $5,500 for sheets of the material. Corbett said he shopped around, and bought the same amount of the material for $857.
“It’s about that personal understanding of how to get things done for the village,” he said. “Building personal relationships is how you get things done.”
As further proof of his ability to work with people of all kinds — including those who disagree with his politics — Corbett appointed Lori Lang as a trustee earlier this month to fill the vacancy created when Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick was elected to the State Senate in November 2022. Lang had unsuccessfully challenged Corbett for mayor in 2019.
“He saw the value in me, and asked if I wanted to get started right away,” Lang said. “It made sense to do it instead of waiting until April, because of my budget experience. It says a lot about who he is.”
As Corbett finishes his last two months in office, he said he would continue to work to improve the village. Construction of a new roof on the Fire Department station was recently completed, and the village broke ground on a new police station last week. There’s also the Whelan Field renovation, planned for the spring.
“It has been the privilege of my lifetime to serve the Village of Malverne,” Corbett said. “This is a special community. You don’t find too many Malvernes in the world. It’s a great place because of the people who call it home.”