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Around Saratoga

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Zurlo holds commanding lead in sheriff's primary

Michael Zurlo had a commanding lead late Tuesday night in the race to be the Republican nominee for Saratoga County Sheriff.

Zurlo, of Stillwater, amassed 5568 votes and Jeff Gildersleeve, of Ballston, amassed 4718 votes, with more than 70 percent of the county’s precincts reporting.

All eyes in the county were on this race because the enrollment advantage in the county heavily favors Republicans and the party’s nominee would have a strong edge in the general election against Conservative Phil Lindsey, who has the Democratic line too, and independent Jason Longton. This fall will also be the first time in more than four decades that the name of long-serving Sheriff James D. Bowen will not be in the ballot, as he is handing in his star.

Regardless of how the final Republican votes broke on Tuesday night, Zurlo was guaranteed a spot on the Independence line for the general election.
The race between Gildersleeve and Zurlo became heated in the waning days of summer, as enforcement of the SAFE Act became a contentious difference between the two candidates. Zurlo downplayed the importance of the sweeping gun-control legislation, which was championed earlier this year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying it wasn’t a central concern of voters. He has promised to enforce the law if elected.
Gildersleeve argued that the law was unconstitutional and promised not to enforce it. Noting that he would control how his resources would be deployed, Gildersleeve said on Tuesday, “Rather than chasing down law abiding citizens and checking to see how many rounds they might have in their magazines, I think what I would rather do is focus on the more serious crimes.”

Both candidates to modernize the department, which has been faulted by critics as being outdated, like with its habit of faxing out press releases. Zurlo plans on making the department more accessible through social media, like Twitter and Facebook, and will let people track sex offenders and check out a list of the county’s most wanted criminals on the department’s website. Gildersleeve offered his own plan to modernize the department, which included public email accounts and a video arraignment system.

Both candidates focused on outreach to the county’s youth. Zurlo created a teen advisory committees to help identify issues among the county’s young people and to establish a communication line between his office and young people. He also plans on having deputies on road patrol visit schools on a regular basis.

Zurlo’s background includes 36 years in law enforcement, retiring in 2010 from public duty, which included 32 years in the sheriff’s department. In the sheriff’s department he rose through the ranks from patrol deputy to supervisor of investigations.

Follow @poozer87 on Twitter.

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