Bower and his supporters believe they are poised to pull off upset

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 August 2015 at 12:00 am

Bower and his supporters believe they are poised to pull off upset

Photos by Tom Rivers – Randy Bower meets with about 100 of his backers and campaign team members on Wednesday night at St. Mary’s Athletic Club in Albion.

ALBION – Randy Bower’s campaign to be the next Orleans County sheriff may have appeared over on May 7.

That night, the Orleans County Republican Committee endorsed Tom Drennan to be the next sheriff, succeeding Scott Hess who is retiring on Dec. 31. About 70 members of the committee gave about 60 percent of the group’s support to Drennan.

There was speculation that Bower, a county dispatcher the past 29 years, would drop out of the race. He already had the Conservative endorsement, but many wondered if he would buck the Republican Party leaders and force a primary.

Bower refused to back off. He submitted Republican petitions signed by more than 900 people, well above the 525 threshold to force the primary.

“The energy has been phenomenal,” Bower, 50, said after a meeting with about 100 campaign supporters at St. Mary’s Athletic Club in Albion.

Bower has gained a following on the campaign, impressing his supporters with his energy in going to so many community events and talking to residents regardless of their background, from political party affiliation to socioeconomic status.

“I’ve seen him a lot more than his opponent,” said Bill Francis of Albion, who attended a rally for Bower on Wednesday night at St. Mary’s. “He’s thought this through from the get-go.”

Randy Bower speaks with his campaign supporters at St. Mary’s with about three weeks to go before the Republican Primary.

Francis chatted with Bower at the Lyndonville Fourth of July Parade. Bower had a booth after the parade and gave Francis one of the red “Bower for Sheriff” T-shirts. More than 300 people have those shirts and Francis said he is proud to wear it.

“You want my vote, you have to come talk to me,” Francis said.

Bower has been paralyzed from the waist down since a car accident at age 18. Francis has a daughter Erica, 25, who is legally blind and deaf. He sees a determination in his daughter to not let her disabilities keep her from an active life.

“Just like my daughter, Randy lets nothing bother him or hold him back,” Francis said.

Bower talks about living a “blessed life” with his wife Robin and their children: Jessica, 23; and Jacob, 20.

He is running to be sheriff to build a strong team in the Sheriff’s Department that he said will focus on service to residents, from stepping up road patrols by Lyndonville and Kendall schools, to timely delivery of civil papers to pushing for state-funded drug and alcohol addiction programs for inmates in the county jail.

Bower thanked his campaign team for their help the past few months, and then gave them more instructions before the primary on Sept. 10.

Bower has been campaigning with Chris Bourke, a 31-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, who would serve as undersheriff if Bower is elected. Bourke has been a lieutenant the past 18 years and a K-9 handler.

(Besides the primary, there is a general election on Nov. 3 and the Democratic Party has endorsed Don Organisciak, who worked 30 years in Medina, with 16 years as a patrolman, then a year as a sergeant and the final 13 years as the Medina Police Department’s first full-time criminal investigator. Both Bower and Drennan have other lines for the general election with Bower backed by the Conservative Party and Drennan picking up the Independence Party line.)

Bower has attended numerous community events, from chicken barbecues at churches to big community parades.

He has 700 campaign signs out on yards, bold red signs with the sheriff star. At least 300 people are wearing “Randy Red,” the bright red shirts that say “Bower for Sheriff.”

Randy Bower urges his supporters to keep wearing their red “Bower for Sheriff” shirts and work to get out more campaign signs.

He has the support of the Deputy Sheriffs Association, and the union for corrections officers and other civilian staff. Each of those unions has given $2,000 towards his campaign.

“They have been tireless in their efforts,” Amy Jenks, a member of the Deputy Sheriffs Association, said about Bower and Bourke. “If they are working this hard campaigning, imagine what they could do for the county if they win the election.”

Bower said the support within the department, plus the community has him optimistic he will win the Republican primary on Sept. 10.

His father, George Bower, was an Orleans County legislator for more than two decades, and won more than 10 county-wide elections.

“I’ve been very impressed,” George Bower said about his son. “He is surrounded by a lot of good people. He goes to the chicken barbecues and talks to the people. He has a great personality and he is a great kid, and he has been like that since he was 18.”

Randy Bower said voter turnout will be the key for the primary. He and his key supporters will be reaching out to Republicans to get out the vote on Sept. 10.

“This is the first time I can remember a contested sheriff’s election with this kind of energy,” Bower told his supporters.

He showed no signs of exhaustion from the pace of the campaign.

“Throughout this whole time, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed this job and being with the people of Orleans County,” he said.

Drennan has been chief deputy in the Sheriff’s Department the past nine years. He has worked in the department for 23 years. He has a campaign event on Aug. 27 at the Albion Elks Club. Orleans Hub plans to stop by and talk with Drennan and his supporters.