Democrats should back best qualified for sheriff

In a Feb. 16 News article, Jeremy Zellner, Erie County Democratic chairman, identified Bert Dunn, a Sheriff’s Department employee, as “a great candidate” for the Democratic nomination to oppose Sheriff Timothy Howard this fall. Two other names were briefly mentioned as being interested in the nomination; namely retired Sgt. Richard Dobson and current Deputy Timothy Higgins. It would appear that Zellner’s opinion was swayed by the fact that Dunn, the son of the owner of Bert’s Bikes and nephew of the founder of Dunn Tire, has promised to “self-finance” his campaign to the tune of $500,000.

I retired from the Sheriff’s Office in 2010 after 35 years of service, 31 years of which were spent as a patrol supervisor. During that time, I directly supervised Dunn, Dobson and Higgins. I assigned their work, reviewed their reports, completed their evaluations, disciplined and commended them. I know each of them personally and professionally.

Zellner clearly does not. Dunn has the least experience, the least seniority, the least commendations or awards and the least personal commitment to the department.

As a registered Republican, I remember when my party endorsed Chris Collins for county executive, largely because of his wealth and business experience. He got elected and it took four years for the voters of Erie County to realize that personal wealth and business experience don’t translate to effective performance in elective office.

As a county resident and former Sheriff’s Office employee, I urge the Democratic Party to select the most qualified candidate for sheriff, for the sake of the citizens of Erie County and the employees of the Sheriff’s Office.

Lawrence F. Cousins