Voters across New York State will head to the polls Thursday to decide which candidates should represent their parties and move forward to the general election in November.
In Oswego County, Thursday’s vote could decide the next sheriff.
Current Sheriff Reuel Todd is retiring. He’s endorsed his undersheriff, Gene Sullivan.
Sullivan, who got the party committee’s endorsement, is being challenged by former Syracuse Police Officer Don Hilton.
Hilton started his career as an Oswego County Corrections Officer, before working through the ranks of the Syracuse Police Department. Hilton retired to become a federal drug investigator before his current job as an investigator for the Onondaga County District Attorney.
Hilton wants to again work in the county where he’s lived his entire life. He says morale at the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office is low, citing a lack of policies, procedures and equipment upgrades.
Hilton says, “I believe there’s need for change at the Sheriff’s Department. It’s a little stale there.”
Undersheriff Gene Sullivan also has a lengthy resume, starting as a cop in Clay before moving home to work through the ranks from deputy to undersheriff in Oswego County.
Sullivan says, “Although there are some similarities in our resumes, the clear difference is I have administrative experience, and it is extensive. There’s no learning curve for me.”
Sullivan also has experience on the other side of law enforcement. At age 17, he spent two months in jail, charged with burglary and purse snatching.
Sullivan tells NewsChannel 9:
“I’m going to hope that the majority of voters can see it for what it is. I was an angry, frustrated, rebellious teenager, lashing out and making bad decisions. Not only have I not done it since then, but I have, again, just tried to move as far away from that as I can.”
When asked about Sullivan’s criminal past, his opponent says:
“That’s a question for him to answer. I believe he has answered it. I’m comfortable with his replies to it. I’m asking voters to base it on our experience, and training and leadership.”
Polls are open noon to 9pm on Thursday.
The election was moved from the traditional Tuesday, as it follows in September 11 and the Rosh Hashanah holiday.