Saratoga County Chooses First New Sheriff In Four Decades
On Tuesday, Republican Mike Zurlo won with 61 percent of the vote. Zurlo, who also ran on the Independence Party line, was challenged by Conservative and Democratic Party candidate Phil Lindsey, who received 35 percent of the vote. Jason Longton Jr., who ran on his own Stop Corruption Party line, received 3 percent.
Zurlo thanked his supporters and said that it was his campaign’s attention to core issues that helped him secure the win, including protecting public neighborhoods, searching for outside funding to help train more officers, developing a social media presence and increasing communication, and working closely with the schools.
"I just think if I can do all of that stuff in the first year we're a better department," said Zurly.
But the road to election day wasn’t necessarily smooth. Zurlo won a narrow primary victory over Jeff Gildersleeve, a former state police investigator who works part-time with the Warren County Sheriff’s office. Zurlo obtained early endorsements from groups including the Saratoga County GOP, while Gildersleeve won backing from the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and former New York gubernatorial candidate and gun-rights advocate Carl Paladino. The candidates’ positions over New York’s SAFE Act gun control law became a divisive factor in the primary season.
Bob Turner, an associate professor of government at Skidmore College, said the close race between the more establishment Zurlo and more tea-party favored Gildersleeve could foreshadow future Republican races in New York…
"We might see a similar-like fault between the two Republican candidates running in the next gubernatorial election," said Turner.
Gildersleeve also filed a criminal complaint over stolen lawn signs during the primary race. Zurlo had said he also had signs stolen. Zurlo said his positive attitude carried him through the primary and the general election.
"For me it was staying positive, which I did, and continued right through November 5th," said Zurlo.
Conservative and Democratic Party Candidate Phil Lindsey’s campaign featured his message on strengthening the narcotics unit at the Saratoga County Sherriff’s office and creating more transparency. Lindsey defended his stance on the SAFE Act, saying while he doesn’t wholeheartedly agree with it, he would have enforced the laws of the state had he been elected.
"People knew where I was coming from with it," said Lindsey. "In law enforcement we don't have the luxury of what laws we personally like and what ones we don't. You use common sense and follow the law, and go from there."
Zurlo said he spoke with Lindsey and thanked him for running a clean campaign.
“I told him we'll work together," said Zurlo. "I'm always open to new ideas."
Lindsey said that he also offered some of his own ideas to Zurlo in their conversation after the election.
Zurlo, who worked under outgoing sherriff James Bowen for 32 years, wished Bowen well on his retirement after four decades of service.
"He was a great friend, taught me a lot, and a great mentor to me, and I wish him the best in his retirement," said Zurlo.