After 21 years as Albany County sheriff, James L. Campbell announced Thursday that he will retire later this month.
Campbell is Albany County’s longest-tenured sheriff. The 71-year-old said after the death in March of former Rensselaer County Sheriff Eugene Eaton, a close friend, he began speaking with his wife about retiring so they could spend more time together. His last day as sheriff will be June 23. The couple then plans to travel.
“It’s a young man’s game,” he said, explaining that with some of the issues facing the department today, the job is more time-consuming than in years past. Campbell also said the younger generation is more aware of the times, adding “I’m not a wiz with the computer.”
He said his health is not an issue. Three years ago Campbell was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but he said he now has a clean bill of health.
“Let’s just say it’s probably been one term too long,” he said.
He did make a recommendation for a successor: Undersheriff Craig Apple.
“He’s an individual who came up through the ranks. Not only that but he was a corrections officer before he moved up in the ranks, so he really knows the operation,” said Campbell, calling Apple his “definite choice, without a doubt.”
Apple said he will become acting sheriff in June until a special election date is set. He said more information will be released later, but he didn’t want to take Campbell’s moment away.
“It will be tough to fill Jim’s shoes,” said Apple, with misted eyes. “He’s been like a father to me and he’ll be missed greatly.”
He called the moment “bittersweet.”
“In a way I’m glad,” said Apple. “The job is filled with stressors now he really doesn’t need.”
Campbell cited as accomplishments, the mental health expansions to the correctional facility, the added sheriff station at Albany International Airport, and working to consolidate 911 communication centers in the county.
Any unfinished business? He drew laughter when he said, “Well, I never thought I’d say I’d retire before this courthouse was completed.”