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Friday, 16 August 2013 09:42

And the Race is On: Sheriff Campaign Race Picks Up Momentum

By Staff Report | News

BALLSTON SPA — As the primary draws near, the Republican race for sheriff is intensifying with each candidate vowing to try and stay positive despite some negative rumors and complaints of destroyed campaign signs. 

Michael Zurlo and Jeff Gildersleeve are both vying for the Republican ticket, while Phil Lindsey is on the Democratic ticket and Jason W. Longton, Jr. is presently collecting signatures in an effort to have his name on the ballet as an independent candidate. Longton, a former Corinth police officer, unsuccessfully challenged Sheriff James Bowen in 2009. 

According to the latest campaign filings with the New York State Board of Elections, Gildersleeve has raised almost $15,000 for his campaign, a significant portion coming from the owners of gun shops; Zurlo, who started his campaign with almost $15,000, has raised over $7,100. Both have nearly $9,000 left. 

Gildersleeve, 56, and Zurlo, 59, both feel their careers in law enforcement make them the perfect candidate to succeed Bowen. And both are focused on virtually the same issues as well—updating technology at the sheriff’s department, bringing a sheriff’s presence into the local schools and bringing about a more cooperative interaction with other law enforcement agencies and organizations. 

Gildersleeve, who was a U.S. Marine, began his law enforcement career with the New York State Police 32 years ago. During his 26 years with the state police, he held the ranks of trooper, Sergeant, Investigator and Senior Investigator. Since retiring, he has been an investigator with the narcotics unit of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. 

“I feel I am really the most experienced guy in the race,” said Gildersleeve, pointing out that his years in the state police as an investigator has prepared him to lead the department. “I do have command and leadership experience.”

Zurlo began his career in law enforcement 36 years ago, starting out in Mechanicville before joining the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office 32 years ago. Starting out as a deputy, Zurlo worked his way up through the ranks to Investigator before retiring in 2010. 

He noted that his years in the Sheriff’s office and working with the various areas of the department makes him the most qualified to be the next sheriff of Saratoga County. 

“I believe my 32 years with the sheriff’s office makes me the best candidate to become sheriff,” said Zurlo. “I know the ins and outs, I have supervised road patrols, I have been a town justice and I have worked with the records department during my time as an investigator.” 

While some allegations have been passed around—both say campaign signs have been removed or destroyed; Zurlo challenged Gildersleeve’s initial petition to be on the ballot; and Gildersleeve questioned omissions on Zurlo’s financial paperwork—both say they want to focus on the issues at hand. 

Both agree the sheriff’s department needs to be brought into the 21st century with better technology for the staff and a web presence, as well as bringing officers into the schools to work in conjunction with present state police. 

“I want better resources for the employees [of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department], to protect the citizens of Saratoga County and bring officers into the schools,” said Zurlo, adding that the officers would be there to only do paperwork, as well as interact with staff and students. “It can help make them feel safer.”

Gildersleeve also said modernizing the sheriff’s department is a big priority, pointing out that they have no website, email or social networking presence. 

“I want to modernize the sheriff’s department and bring up the training,” said Gildersleeve. “They are an outstanding group of people, but I want to take it up a notch. School safety is another big issue—I already do active school training drills [with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.]” 

The Republican primary is September 10. 

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