Republicans don’t have enough votes to endorse either candidate for sheriff

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2019 at 4:12 pm

Bower and Sobieraski headed for June 25 Primary

ALBION – None of the candidates for sheriff for Orleans County gained enough votes today for the Orleans County Republican Party endorsement.

The candidates – incumbent Randy Bower and challenger Brett Sobieraski – needed a super majority of support, at least two-thirds for the endorsement.

Voting was done by secret ballot, and the results weren’t released, except to say neither of the two reached the 66.7 percent threshold.

Brett Sobieraski speaks during his campaign announcement for sheriff on Jan. 27 in Holley.

Sobieraski, a Rochester Police Department sergeant, took the result as a victory because Bower, the current sheriff, won’t have the endorsement. Party officials also are freed to support whichever candidate they want. If there had been an endorsed candidate, the party would have been duty-bound to back that candidate through the petition process and with fundraising.

“I take it as great news,” Sobieraski said at Tillman’s Village Inn, where the Republican Party Committee met for about three hours. “It levels the playing field to whoever resonates the most with the public.”

Sobieraski heads a narcotics team in Rochester. He also is an endurance athlete who has swam across Lake Ontario and done many long distance runs, including for 50 hours straight last summer along the Erie Canal towpath.

He compared the election to another endurance challenge.

“This is an ultra-distance race I’m in,” he said.

Sobieraski said a stepped up law enforcement effort, targeting drug dealers, would reduce the opioid epidemic in the county.

Bower is seeking a second term for sheriff. He missed the Republican endorsement in 2015, when the committee backed Tom Drennan. Bower forced a primary and won.

Bower touted a record of accomplishment during his presentation to the committee. He and Sobieraski each were allowed to give a five-minute speech.

Bower noted an increased law enforcement presence in the rural areas of the county, so much that Lyndonville and Kendall school districts each are paying the county $100,000 to have a deputy assigned to the districts as a school resource officer.

Randy Bower speaks to local high school students during a leadership forum last March.

Bower previously worked as a county dispatcher in the Public Safety Building. He wanted state police cars to be included in dispatch and that is now happening. The DEC conservation officers also are expected to be added soon.

The county has expanded animal control services and is having those officers trained as peace officers. The Civil Division has increased expectations to promptly process orders of conviction.

Bower has also pushed to expand services to fight the opioid epidemic, including a treatment program in the county jail. The federal government is funding that program with GCASA providing the treatment.

Bower said he has strengthened many partnerships locally with churches, Mental Health providers, and the state and federal government to assist people with addictions.

“We’ve met the goals I set out I do and we’ve kept our budget flat through all of these partnerships,” Bower said this afternoon.

Bower this past June received a national award for his work to implement several new initiatives in the county, including expanded substance abuse and mental health services for inmates in the Orleans County Jail. He was honored at the National Sheriffs’ Association Conference in New Orleans with a MAGNUS Leadership Award.

The candidates can start getting signatures for their petitions on Feb. 26. They need a minimum of 543 signatures from registered Republicans in the county. Those petitions are due in April.

Incumbent county legislators are endorsed, but not Tyler Allport

The 80-member Republican committee also endorsed the six incumbents seeking re-election to two-year terms. They include Lynne Johnson of Lyndonville, Bill Eick of Shelby, Skip Draper of Medina, Don Allport of Gaines, Ken DeRoller of Kendall and John DeFilipps of Clarendon.

Tyler Allport, the son of Don Allport, asked for the committee’s support so he could challenge Fred Miller of Albion for a district that includes the towns of Albion and Gaines. Miller is the only Democrat on the seven-member Legislature.

Allport didn’t reach the two-thirds threshold for an endorsement. A Republican official said some of the committee members were uncomfortable with a father and son serving on the Legislature together. Tyler Allport just finished his first year on the Gaines Town Board. The Republican Party two years ago didn’t run a candidate against Miller.

Allport can still run as a Republican if he submits petitions signed by enough registered Republicans.

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