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Getting to know the candidates for Ontario County Sheriff

After 28 years as sheriff and 46 years in law enforcement, Sheriff Philip Povero has reached the end of his career.

Following a career of that length, and with everything the county has accomplished in that time, there is a vast expanse to be filled.

Appearing on the ballot in the primary election on Thursday September 13th are two new faces: Bob Green and Silvio Palermo. Kevin Henderson, the endorsed Democratic candidate who has no primary and has already been supported by two other parties will face the winner in November.

Each with their own list of priorities for the county should they be elected, the three candidates were willing to share some of their main focuses and concerns as the election looms closer.

Kevin Henderson, the former Union President for the Sheriff’s office, has experience in working with the leadership of Ontario County. “My boots have been on the ground in this county for 34 years. I know our community, and I have worked in almost every division of the Sheriffs office.” He sits on the Substance Abuse Coalition, Suicide Prevention Coalition, No Where to Go Coalition for the Homeless, Juvenile Sex trafficking Coalition, and the Juvenile Fatality Review Committee.

Henderson pointed out that the opioid epidemic was one of his top concerns. “I have been a County Coroner for the past 8 years, I’ve seen the deaths from opioids. Not only is it taking a toll on our community but on the deputies who respond to the overdose calls. And further, the corrections officers dealing with those who are incarcerated and dealing with addiction, as well as those around them.”

Also believing that recent showings of senior citizens being the targets of scams, Henderson is concerned, and has a plan to combat it. “Our seniors are targets of opportunity by those who are out to take their hard earned money that they are using to live on. As Sheriff I will make it a priority that we develop programs that will help protect our seniors. I will continue the S.A.L.T program, Seniors and Law Together, and present crime prevention programs that will help educate our seniors to the current scams and deceptions that occurring.”

Like his opponent, Bob Green sees the opioid crisis as high priority and needing immediate attention. “As Chairman of the Ontario County Public Safety committee, I see first hand the horrific impact it has upon our citizens. Ontario County has been working diligently with individuals to offer programs that offer a new pathway. The county has support agencies such as FLACRA, The Partnership for Ontario County, Veteran’s court, and Drug court, to name a few, to help those in need to return to a productive life.”

Green brings to the table 30 years of experience, and has worked in every division of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department, including the SWAT team, Underwater Search and Rescue, and Firearms training. He climbed his way up to the rank of lieutenant, and worked two years for the Office of Homeland Security fighting the War on Terror. As a senior law enforcement instructor at the training facility in Oriskany NY, Green developed skill sets in the areas of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive hazards, working closely with first responders across the region to better prepare them for the unthinkable.

Green points out that in this day and age, the call centers as well as processes need to be updated. “Technology upgrades are ongoing in the 9-1-1 center. As with any computer generated system, current software is a continual must. The building is undergoing 10 million renovation for the Sheriff’s Office and other county related functions.

He added “We also need to address the current Civil Service process for bringing new communication personnel on board – The process needs to give priority to computer orientation skill sets that come with the potential candidate. In short, it all needs to be revamped for the 21st century.”

The third candidate on the ballot, Silvio Palermo, brings a combination of experience and qualifications to the table, but insists that there is more to it than that. “The Sheriff of a County is a unique law enforcement officer position, because the Sheriff is elected by the people, and the Sheriff answers to the people. Therefore, it is of vital importance that the Sheriff has the right attitude and the right personality to be able to connect with the people and the community and build strong relationships.”

After serving actively on the front lines of law enforcement for the past 20 years and serving currently as Sergeant, also with Supervisor and Commanding Officer responsibilities at the Gates Police Department, Palermo is no stranger to the ever-changing nature of the field of law enforcement. With his experience, he believes he is extremely well suited for this position.

Palermo believes he is the peoples Sheriff, and will be a very visible and approachable leader, enabling himself to use this to his advantage if he is elected. Not unlike his two opposing candidates, he believes that one of the most pressing problems in the county is the opioid epidemic. “We need to have an aggressive strategy to counteract this epidemic and reduce the number of people being affected. Through aggressive enforcement by treating all fatal doses as homicide investigations and partnering with the public health community and other community organizations to provide better treatment options, education, and other resources, we can come together as one community to address this complex problem of opioid and heroin abuse.”

Believing in the strong influence of experienced school resource officers, Palermo stands for instituting full time resource officers in all county schools. “Currently, five of the County’s school districts have full-time School Resource Officers, and the other four school districts only have part-time School Resource Officers. It is important that we work towards instituting full-time School Resource Officers in all School Districts in Ontario County. I will work with Federal, State, and local officials on grant funding to help defray the cost of personnel.”

Placing heavy emphasis on school threat assessment response teams in all districts, Palermo is a huge advocate for keeping the children of Ontario County safe and educated.

As Americans, exercising our privilege to express our opinion through voting is very important. Your voice cannot be heard unless you speak.

Register to vote or apply for an absentee ballot here.

FL1 Reporter Addilys Geitner is an intern from Nazareth College in Rochester. The junior has roots in Bloomfield, but is reporting on stories throughout the Western Finger Lakes. Follow Addilys on Twitter @AddilysGeitner, or email addi@fingerlakes1.com

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