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A New Face Soon to Become Onondaga County's New Sheriff

The Onondaga County Sheriff position is up for grabs for the first time since 1994. Longtime Sheriff Kevin Walsh is stepping down after twenty years. DeWitt Police Chief and Republican candidate Gene Conway will run against Democrat and veteran of the Onondaga Sheriff's office Toby Shelley. The department has recently dealt with a number of issues including over-time costs and allegations of officers filling out false time sheets. First-time candidate Conway is not happy with the negative image the local police and Sheriff's office has developed over the past few years.

"Well it's disappointing anytime that I see a law enforcement officer, regardless of the agency, being in the news in a negative manner. So when a police officer is put in a negative light in the news, it reflects on all of us, so in that way, it's disappointing." 

Both candidates agree that accountability is necessary to control police timesheets. Shelley explains what he would do different to track officers' pay.

"One, I would manage better the off-duty work permits that they are working under and bringing a level of accountability. For example, if you're working off-duty, your timesheet knows off-duty work permits. Those timesheets have to be brought back and compared with your regular-duty timesheets to make sure everything works properly."

Toby Shelley's campaign poster

Despite the problems facing the office, neither candidate seems fazed by the demands of the position.

Conway and Shelley say they both understand the responsibilities a Sheriff has to serve the community. Both candidates bring a combined 54 years of law enforcement experience.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at