HAMBURG — The League of Women Voters of Buffalo-Niagara held a Meet the Candidates forum in Hamburg on Oct. 24, at the Union Pleasant Elementary School. Candidates took to the podium to answer written questions posed to them by the audience, which numbered approximately 100.
Two of the three candidates for Erie County sheriff were present and engaged in discussion of the sheriff’s office, jail management, road patrol, the New York Secure Ammunitions and Firearms Act and patronage.
Richard Dobson, a 32-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, said that the major problem facing the sheriff is mandatory overtime for deputies.
He said that it is cheaper to pay overtime to these individuals, but he added that this decision comes at a cost: tired and distracted deputies.
Bert Dunn, who lost to Dobson in the Democratic party primary, is also a sheriff’s department veteran. He said that he sees “inefficiency in the sheriff’s office” as the major issue confronting that position.
Both candidates said that the New York SAFE Act, the gun-control legislation enacted earlier this year, is a law of the state, and as such, must be enforced by the sheriff, the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the county.
The incumbent sheriff, Timothy Howard, who was not in attendance, has gone on record saying that he is opposed to the SAFE Act and will not enforce portions of it.
Dobson and Dunn both decried Howard’s use of patronage in hiring and job assignments in the sheriff’s department.
Incumbent Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and his opponent, Kevin Gaughan, spoke on a personal level.
Mychajliw talked about Gaughan’s prior failed candidacies and said that his opponent had not paid his taxes in a timely manner. Gaughan acknowledged his failures and said that he is now current in his tax obligations. He also challenged Mychajliw’s qualifications to be comptroller. Neither candidate is a certified public accountant.
Other participants in the event were Hamburg Town Board candidates Amy Ziegler, Michael Quinn, Cheryl Potter-Juda and Lawrence Speiser and Hamburg highway superintendent candidates Tom Best and Ted Casey.