MONTGOMERY COUNTY -- The two candidates for Montgomery County sheriff have announced the major appointments they would make if elected in November.
Republican Jeff Smith and Democrat James Glorioso Jr. are vying to replace Sheriff Mike Amato, who has served for 21 years. Amato announced his retirement in April.
Smith, who formerly served as Montgomery County undersheriff, has announced his intention to appoint 30-year Amsterdam police Officer Carl Rust to be undersheriff, replacing current Undersheriff Robert Thomas.
Rust has held the rank of sergeant since 1999 and supervises the city's K-9 unit, which he has been involved with for 24 years. Smith cites Rust's experience as a certified police instructor, certified dive team member, his two years working as a corrections officer and 20 years as a social services fraud investigator as among the reasons he would make a good undersheriff.
"I feel confident that my choice for undersheriff will serve the staff and county well," Smith told The Daily Gazette in a social media message Saturday.
Glorioso, also interviewed by The Gazette through social media, said he currently has four possible candidates with "limited relationships with the employees of the sheriff's office" for the undersheriff position. He said they "currently hold or have held high level law enforcement leadership positions."
He said he doesn't believe any of the candidates will agree to make a commitment to take the job until and unless he wins the election in November.
“I always appreciate any officer that spends their life serving the community. Right now, I think the sheriff's office needs fresh leadership. I’m sure Rust is capable to do the job, but my primary concern with the selection is that both Smith and Rust have known each other and the people who work there for many years, and both their kids are deputies there," Glorioso said.
"One of the biggest opportunities there is poor morale, in part due to favoritism; now we are adding a possible nepotism issue. You can’t really change a culture when everyone is your friend or family."
Smith said there won't be any nepotism if he is elected.
"I am not going to criticize another person. As far as nepotism. Those young men took civil service exams. They were hired when neither of us worked there, and they successfully completed the basic course for police officers. If we win the election, they will be held to a higher standard and they know that," Smith said.
Glorioso has announced his intention to appoint Fabrizia Rodriguez to be the jail administrator for the Montgomery County jail. The current jail administrator is Robert Barbuti.
Rodriguez is an Amsterdam-based lawyer who was the former Transportation Department director for the city of Amsterdam and currently serves the Greater Amsterdam School District as the parent liaison.
Glorioso cited Rodriguez's fluency in Spanish and Italian and her educational experience at the University of Massachusetts, where she conducted an independent study on juvenile law analyzing rehabilitative versus punitive practice.
"Rodriguez brings very valuable skills that would be an asset to the sheriff’s office for many reasons. Her experience practicing law will help us identify or prevent future lawsuits and provide excellent training opportunities for our employees. Her involvement in the Hispanic community will not only help bridge the gap with law enforcement, she will work with and implement new programs to help transition people back into the community to prevent reoccurring incarceration," Glorioso said.
Smith on Saturday said he is not yet prepared to disclose any decisions regarding the jail administrator position.
"My only comment, in general, is that experience in specific settings is paramount when making appointments to these important positions," he said.
Tensions in the Sheriff's Department have been high since Glorioso was arrested Aug. 28 and charged with felony filing a false instrument in connection with his "opportunity to ballot" petition as a write-in candidate for the Conservative Party primary in September.
Part of the basis of the charge against Glorioso was information provided to the state police by a private investigator associated with Smith's campaign. The information alleged that not all of the signatures on Glorioso's campaign were witnessed properly and one man, Hector Perez, had signed the petition for his autistic son Frankie Perez. A notary hired by Glorioso, Kirsten Lemire of Amsterdam, was also arrested and charged with felony filing of a false statement. Glorioso has denied criminal intent in the filing of the petition and is fighting the charge in court. If convicted of a felony, Glorioso will not be eligible to serve as sheriff.
Glorioso is due back in court on the matter Oct. 12.