The campaigns in the race for Saratoga County Sheriff are intensifying, and some big political names have taken an interest in the candidates.
On September 10th, primary voters will choose the Republican nominee to run for the next sheriff of Saratoga County. Current sheriff James Bowen is retiring after more than four decades.
Former Stillwater Town Judge Michael Zurlo spent much of his career in law enforcement in various positions at the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office including Senior Criminal Investigator.
Zurlo won early endorsements from Republican organizations in regional communities and from the Saratoga County Republican Committee. He’s also secured endorsements from Congressman Chris Gibson, state Assemblymen Jim Tedisco and Dan Stec, State Senator Hugh Farley, outgoing Sheriff James Bowen, the Saratoga County Correctional Officers Union, and others.
"I'm very humbled by their support," said Zurlo.
His Republican opponent, Jeff Gildersleeve, spent 26 years with the New York State police, until his retirement in 2007. Gildersleeve has been working in the Warren County Sherrirf’s Office as an Investigator.
Gilderlseeve has received endorsements from the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association as well as from 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, a staunch proponent of gun rights.
Gilderlseeve, whose campaign is being outpaced in fundraising by Zurlo’s, said he knew the race would be an uphill battle from the start.
"I knew going into this that the Republican party was going to probably go with the guy the party leaders in Saratoga County chose and it's not disheartening to me," said Gildersleeve. "My campaign has been truly grassroots and its about allowing the Republican voters in Saratoga County a choice. Typically they don't."
Gildersleeve has labeled himself as “A 21st Century” candidate saying he’d bring more technology into the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, including capabilities for video conferencing and arraignments, and dedicated email.
"They have currently no departmental email, very limited internet access...they're not luxury items, these are necessary to do the job of law enforcement in today's day and age," said Gildersleeve.
Zurlo has also embraced technology in his campaign and said as sheriff he would use social media and a new website to keep in contact with the community.
"On the web page we'll have various links for the residents of Saratoga County; have links to sex offenders, we'll have a link for the top five most wanted in the county. Social media is huge," said Zurlo.
The winner of the Republican primary will face off against Phil Lindsey in November. Lindsey has spent 28 years with the Glens Falls police department, and has served in South Glens Falls since 2010. The Democrat is also running as a Conservative party candidate. Lindsey said he has not made any assumptions on who is opponent will be, and said that he’ll continue his own work to win the support of voters in the months ahead.
"I'm just going about my business and talking to people and getting things lined up for November," said Lindsey. "Things are going along smooth."
All three candidates say they’re planning to step up efforts in the weeks ahead.