Sheriff candidates should let public know who would serve as undersheriff

Posted 28 August 2015 at 12:00 am


As we creep closer to both the Republican primary and the general election for Orleans County Sheriff, voters should be determining in their minds who is the best candidate to be the next Sheriff.

As they contemplate this thought, voters can gain valuable insight into a candidate’s decision-making ability early on in the election process Or at least they should be able to.

Aside from deciding to run for Sheriff, a candidate’s first major decision is who to select as Undersheriff. Only one candidate, Randy Bower, has named who will serve as his Undersheriff. Not only did Bower have the courage to make such an important decision early on in the process, he knocked it out of the park with his selection of Lieutenant Christopher Bourke to be his right-hand man.

Bower could not have made a better choice; Lt. Bourke has over 31 years of outstanding service as a deputy sheriff with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department. During his distinguished career, Lt. Bourke has functioned in a variety of roles that include working as a correctional officer in the jail, serving as K-9 handler, and leading personnel as a road patrol Lieutenant for the last 18 years.

Lt. Bourke has seen duty on all shifts and has been involved with everything from active shooter situations to performing demonstrations in Orleans County’s five school districts. In the simplest of terms he has seen it all, done it all, and is respected by everyone inside and outside the law enforcement community.

Why would a candidate not want to name an Undersheriff? Perhaps it is because they are hard-pressed to find an individual who could rival Lt. Bourke’s impeccable resume, experience, and leadership ability.

Voters should want to know who a candidate’s Undersheriff is going to be. As a voter, I want to know what the whole package is when I fill in the bubbles at my polling place. The Undersheriff not only plays a vital role in the administration of the Sheriff’s Department, but God forbid if something unforeseen happens to the Sheriff, I want to know who is going to take the reins and lead the department, and I don’t think that is too much to ask for.

It is not common practice to leave voters in the dark when it comes to naming a running mate. In state gubernatorial elections the public is made aware of who will serve as Lieutenant Governor, and in presidential elections the public is aware of who will serve as Vice President, and the election for Sheriff is no different.

One candidate, Tom Drennan, made his intentions to run for sheriff public via Facebook on New Year’s Day and has had about 8 months since to figure out who his Undersheriff will be, but has chosen to punt when given the opportunity to name an individual.

He has gone on record that he wants to wait until after the election to name his Undersheriff, which to educated voters like myself, is a either a convenient “cop” out or a politically-motivated maneuver to avoid naming an individual who pales in comparison to Bower’s selection of Lt. Bourke.

Whatever his reasoning may be, it is unfair to leave the voting public in the dark, and it certainly does not foster a good relationship with the community. While Drennan proclaims “experience matters,” so too does transparency; and no candidate offers more experience and transparency than does the team Randy Bower has put together.

The combination of Bower and Bourke bring over 60 years of expansive law enforcement experience, and Bower has not left voters in the dark when it comes to his intentions and important decisions such as selecting an Undersheriff. His initiatives and agenda have appeared on the Orleans Hub, are published weekly in the Lake Country Pennysaver, and on his Facebook page “Randy Bower for Sheriff.”

Call me crazy, but in the end I want to know what our community is getting when I make my decision on our next Sheriff. The “we’ll figure it out when we get there” attitude is not acceptable, as it is imperative that the public knows what a candidate’s plan is.

Slogans are nifty, but if you do not offer a plan that includes an undersheriff, no amount of experience matters. The tandem of Bower and Bourke brings an unparalleled amount of experience and knowledge, with a plan laid out for the future of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, and they are not afraid to share it with the public.

So when you cast your vote for our next Sheriff in the Republican Primary on Sept. 10 and/or in the General Election on Nov. 3, consider choosing Randy Bower the candidate who has a comprehensive plan, an Undersheriff, and the foresight to share his vision with you.

Chris Caufield