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      Run for Sheriff, more at stake than the badge: Matt's Memo

      Sheriff Kevin Walsh.

      We're just two weeks into the New Year, but already some political races are taking shape. The most crowded field in Central New York is the battle to be the next Sheriff of Onondaga County. The Dewitt Police Chief Gene Conway made his official announcement today. Conway is one of four men running to replace five term, retiring Sheriff Kevin Walsh.

      All four of the law enforcement veterans have spent much of the careers inside the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department. John Balloni is the other republican running. He's second in command to Sheriff Walsh right now. Toby Shelley and Craig Dykes are both democrats with long tours in the department.

      The two republicans have already had some significant fund raising events. Each has an impressive list of fellow members of law enforcement as donors and supporters. They are heading for a collission in the republican caucuses this spring and then a possible primary.

      The democrats may also end up in a primary. The political oddity right now is the primary date has not been set. I talked with the Onondaga County Board of Elections today. They tell me the Federal Primary is June 24th. That will cover contested congressional races. The general election is set for November 4th. But, primary day for New York State and local races has not been set. It could end up in June or stay in the more traditional September slot.

      For members of law enforcement with the sheriff's department in their blood this is a significant prize. The sheriff only turns over in Onondaga County once a generation. Sheriff Walsh has served twenty years. He even retired and then kept serving while collecting a pension and a salary. It's a financial windfall to oversee this department of some 650 deputies and staff.

      Onondaga County voters are fortunate to have choices. Four choices in all. May the best candidate win and then see if he can maintain the tradition of a couple of decades in office.


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