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Race for sheriff features familiar faces

ELIZABETHTOWN - Two candidates will be on the ballot this November for the position of Essex County Sheriff, the most heavily contested county-wide election this season.

Michael "Ike" Tyler of Westport, who narrowly lost to the late Sheriff Henry Hommes in last year's election, returns to face Elizabethtown resident Richard Cutting, who was appointed acting Sheriff following Hommes' death.

"I always knew I was going to run for sheriff again," said Tyler. "I just didn't know it would be this soon."

A retired state corrections officer with more than 25 years experience, Tyler holds a degree in Business Administration and has served as a member of the Westport Town Board for the past 15 years.

Tyler argued he could use that experience to do more with less as Sheriff, utilizing staff and other resources more efficiently for a leaner budget.

"I've looked at the budget, and I think it's time the Sheriff's department is run like a business," Tyler said.

One major area he'd look to trim is the number of supervisory staff in the department, claiming there are too many of the highly-paid positions. Tyler also said he would want to re-evaluate the need for all the vehicles the department uses.

Altogether, Tyler claims he could trim between $200,000 and $300,000 from the Sheriff's department budget, depending on the number of retirements.

"I'd start better training the staff," Tyler added. "From what I understand, they need more training."

Training programs, such as those offered by the New York State Crisis Negotiation Team, Tyler said, would allow guards and deputies to be better equipped to handle some of the more challenging situations that come with housing federal inmates at the jail, thereby improving staff morale.

Also, he would make sure to institute an alcohol and substance abuse program for inmates to further reduce the recidivism rate.

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