Michael Zurlo is declaring victory again in the race for the Saratoga County sheriff’s Republican nomination.
The Saratoga County Board of Elections still needs to count absentee ballots from a handful of towns Wednesday, but Zurlo’s campaign calculated he has built an insurmountable lead over challenger Jeff Gildersleeve from absentee ballots counted Tuesday. According to Zurlo’s campaign, his lead from primary night has grown from about 400 votes to about 490, with only about 80 absentee ballots left to count.
Gildersleeve, who said last week he wasn’t conceding the race until all votes were counted, could not be reached Tuesday.
This fall will 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 ending his career of public service.
Zurlo, who also has the Independence line, said he will continue to focus on neighborhood safety in his general election campaign. He is also going to talk about his teen advisory council, which is part of a youth outreach effort, and some technological upgrades for the department, like allowing members of the public to track registered sex offenders.
Securing the Republican line is a major boost for Zurlo in Saratoga County, which has a heavy Republican majority in voter enrollment. His main opponent will be Conservative Phil Lindsey, who also has the Democratic line.
Lindsey said his main priority is public safety, which he will help foster with an emphasis on community policing.
“That’s the way I was brought up,” he said. “You get to know your community.”
He also wants to explore ways the department can generate revenue, like housing inmates from neighboring counties at its jail.
Lindsey, who worked 28 years with the Glens Falls Police Department and is currently employed by the South Glens Falls Police Department, said the major difference between him and Zurlo, who served 32 years with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, is that he isn’t connected to the department.
“No disrespect to Mike, but the department needs a fresh look. It needs a fresh set of eyes,” he said.
Zurlo, who says his experience is more expansive than Lindsey’s, rejected the idea he can’t improve the department because he is too close to it.
“I’ve got some fresh ideas,” he said, citing plans to make the department more accessible to the public and media.
The third candidate is Jason Longton of Greenfield, an independent who received 12 percent of the vote in 2009 when he was the sole opponent in Bowen’s 10th campaign for the office.
Longton was fired from the Corinth Police Department in 2004 for continuing to investigate a sexual abuse complaint after being ordered by a superior to drop it. He has maintained since that his firing was improper, though the courts ultimately upheld its legality.
An official tally in the Republican primary was not available Tuesday, as the county Board of Elections would not provide partial results.