Union for jail employees, dispatchers endorses Randy Bower for sheriff

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 June 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Randy Bower, left front, has been endorsed for sheriff by a union representing jail corrections officers, dispatchers, three clerical staff for the Sheriff’s Department, and two kitchen employees at the jail. (Bower is pictured at the far left with Jim Lyman from Council 82, Local Union President Mike Christopher and Lt. Chris Bourke, who Bower said would serve as undersheriff if Bower is elected.)

(Editor’s Note: This article includes two corrections/ clarifications from an earlier version, which stated the union gave most of its support to Randy Bower, then Tom Drennan had second most votes and Donald Organisciak was third. The vote to endorse didn’t include the option to vote for Drennan or Organisciak. It asked union members if they wanted to endorse Bower, not endorse him or if they preferred not to vote. About 60 percent favored endorsing Bower, with about 30 percent saying they didn’t want to endorse him and about 10 percent saying they didn’t want to vote.

The earlier version also listed four job titles that are part of the union but the article may have implied each of the four groups voted for Bower. The vote was the collective total from the four job titles.)

Randy Bower, a dispatcher for nearly 30 years, is running for Orleans County sheriff. He has the Conservative Party endorsement and is working on forcing a Republican primary against Tom Drennan, the chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Department. Drennan was endorsed by the Orleans County Republican Committee last month.

The Democratic Party has endorsed retired Medina police investigator Donald Organisciak for sheriff.

Scott Hess, the incumbent, is retiring on Dec. 31 and isn’t seeking re-election.

Bower and many of his key supporters met Thursday at the Orleans County Veterans Club when Bower was presented a $1,000 campaign donation and endorsement from the Council 82. That union in Albany represents about 4,300 corrections officers and law enforcement officers.

Jim Lyman from Council 82 made the trip to Albion to meet Bower. Lyman said Council 82 takes direction from the local union for endorsements and donations.

Mike Christopher, a corrections officer in the jail for 23 years, is president of the local union. He said the union membership put the endorsement to a vote and Bower received the majority of the support.

Bower reached out to the union for an endorsement, and Christopher said the group welcomed being part of the election process.

Drennan didn’t seek an endorsement from the union and he said he doesn’t want to put employees in an awkward position at work, asking them to pick sides.

Bower also has the endorsement from the Deputy Sheriff’s Association.

With the latest endorsement of the union that represents dispatchers, corrections officers and some other Sheriff’s staff, Bower said he has a team that can work to improve services for residents.

“With the support from the two unions there will be no broken campaign promises,” Bower said. “We can get the job done.”

One of Bower’s plans is to reach out to the state for a more intensive drug and alcohol abuse program for inmates. Bower said many of the inmates are in jail due to their addictions.

Christopher, in his role as correction officer, said he sees the impact drug and alcohol addictions have in crimes that result in jail.

“Nine out of 10 inmates are in there directly or indirectly by drugs or alcohol,” Christopher said. He wants a stronger program to help inmates break the cycle of addiction.

Christopher said he has known Bower since they were kids growing up in Holley. Christopher was the ball boy in junior high when Bower played on the varsity basketball team.

Bower was injured in a car accident at 18, and paralyzed from the waist down. He has shown tremendous determination in living a full and active life since that accident more than three decades ago, Christopher said.

He has watched Bower ride snowmobiles, play golf and hunt since he has been paralyzed from the waist down.

“I’ve known Randy since we were kids and you can’t find a more likable guy,” Christopher said.

He knows Bower can inspire others, and raise the level of performance.

“It’s really a motivation thing,” he said about Bower. “He shows initiative and he has good ideas.”