WESTPORT - A correction officer from Westport has announced plans to challenge the re-election bid of Essex County Sheriff Henry Hommes.
Michael "Ike" Tyler, a 25-year veteran of the state Department of Correctional Services, said running the Essex County Jail is the primary responsibility of the sheriff.
"I've got the knowledge and experience to do that effectively and efficiently," he said. "And, I want to give back to the people of this county. That's why I'm running."
Meanwhile, three-term incumbent Henry Hommes said his record managing the 60 county correction officers and deputy sheriffs speaks for itself.
"I've worked hard to provide the best service with the lowest possible cost to the county taxpayer," Hommes said.
Tyler works at the Moriah Shock Incarceration Camp and has served as a councilman for the town of Westport for 13 years. He also spent time as a trustee for the village of Westport before it was dissolved in the early 1990s.
Hommes is a retired state trooper and BCI investigator, with 21 years in law enforcement, most of which was spent assigned to the Westport barracks.
Tyler said he would bring a compassionate, people-first approach to the job, if elected.
"I treat people how I would like to be treated," he said. "That's how I approach life. If I were sheriff, I would treat the employees and the constituents of the county like I would want to be treated."
Tyler said morale at the new jail is low and safety is a big concern for the correction officers. Several weeks ago, a fight broke out at the jail, injuring several employees.
"I've talked to quite a few people who work out there," Tyler said. "They're concerned about their welfare and I'm concerned about their welfare. I think the safety of the men and women that work there would be my main concern."