The candidates for Erie County Sheriff take center stage

EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WIVB) — We are just a few weeks from election day and we’re hearing from three of the candidates in the race for Erie County Sheriff. The League of Women Voters held a forum Wednesday evening in East Aurora.

“I’ll tell you one thing — when I’m the sheriff in Erie County, everything will be on the straight and narrow,” said Democratic candidate Kim Beaty.

“I’m a cop and I’m a leader and I’m ready to take the sheriff’s office into the 21st century,” Republican candidate John Garcia said.

“I will not make my decision based on affiliation, I will make my decision on what’s right or wrong,” added Independent candidate Ted DiNoto.

After 16 years, Erie county voters will not see retiring Sheriff Tim Howard’s name on this November’s ballot. Instead, they have the choice between Democrat Kimberly Beaty, Republican John Garcia and Independent Ted DiNoto.

The league of women voters held a forum Wednesday night. One of the main things the candidates discussed was how to prevent people from dying at the Holding Center.

“I’m going to hire mental health professionals right at intake so we can divide people into three categories — those with mental health issues, those with substance abuse issues and those that are criminal,” DiNoto said.

“We have to look at staffing issues, we have to make sure all incarcerated people get what they need, we also have to first remember that they are people and they don’t deserve to die just because they’re in a lock-up,” added Beaty.

“It’s called a correctional facility, it’s not ECMC. Once they’re there, they have to be screened properly with a deputy and a mental health professional,” Garcia said.

The candidates also spoke about the importance of ending the opioid epidemic and protecting houses of worship as targeted crimes are on the rise throughout the country.

They all say their priorities involve the community and those who work in the Erie County sheriff’s office.

“Transform public safety, we have to mobilize on mental health, we have to stop the surge in violence,” said Garcia.

“We can’t take care of anybody if we can’t take care of ourselves. I want to get their pride back, I want them to get understanding they have a sheriff that’s behind them,” DiNoto added.

“Accountable leadership, would be a priority, we also have to do training for our officers and the people that work for the sheriff’s office, and we have to right-size the sheriff’s office,” Beaty noted.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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