MAYVILLE - For the sixth time, Joe Gerace is running for Chautauqua County Sheriff.
Gerace announced his plans to seek re-election this week, as his fifth four-year term in the position draws to a close. He has been endorsed by the Democratic, Conservative and Independence parties.
This is the third time he will run opposed, this time against Republican candidate and Frewsburg resident Russell Payne.
Sheriff Joe Gerace
"I am asking the voters of Chautauqua County to allow me to carry out the mission of this office for the next four years," Gerace said. "Since I was first elected as Chautauqua County Sheriff, my professional team of deputies, correction officer, other staff and I have risen to every challenge presented to the office at the least possible cost to property taxpayers."
Gerace said he has initiated programs that have improved public safety, including the Wanted In Chautauqua County Program.
"With excellent cooperation of the media, this resulted in the apprehension of hundreds of individuals with outstanding arrest warrants," Gerace said.
Gerace added that another one of his programs, the Inmate Weekender Work Program, saved taxpayer dollars by placing individuals sentenced to weekends on work details instead of being jailed at the county's expense.
He said other successful programs included a welfare fraud investigation in cooperation with the Department of Social Services and We-Tip, which allows people to report crime anonymously. Gerace also initiated anti-drunk driving education in local high schools to educate students on the dangers and punishment of drunk and drugged driving and Smart-911, which allows residents to create a public safety profile which is sent to 911 dispatchers in case of emergency.
Gerace said his Forensic Identification Team, developed in cooperation with the county Association of Chiefs of Police and the county District Attorney's Office, enlisted help from crime scene investigators from all county police agencies in a team approach to investigate serious crime scenes.
"This program was recognized as an innovative program by the New York State Sheriffs' Association and is one of a kind in New York state, thanks to our district attorney and chiefs of police," Gerace said.
Gerace said his mission also includes addressing challenges of senior citizens.
Senior programs Gerace said he and his team have implemented include RUOK - the "Are You Okay?" program, which provides a computerized phone reassurance safety network for senior citizens; working with the Office for the Aging through Save Our Seniors to provide free used cellphones to seniors so they can dial 911 in case of emergencies; RUSH (Return Us Safely Home), which provides bracelets or pendants to memory-impaired seniors who have lost their way; and sponsoring educational programs for senior citizen groups to keep them informed and help prevent victimization.
Gerace is a 36-year Sheriff's Office veteran and holds a master's degree in administration from Alfred University, a bachelor's degree in police science from Mercyhurst College and an associate degree in criminal justice from Jamestown Community College.
He is past president of the New York State Sheriffs Association and currently serves as a trustee. He also serves on the New York State Interoperable and Emergency Communication Board, and is chairman of the Chautauqua County Traffic Safety Board. Gerace serves as the Chautauqua County STOP-DWI coordinator.
He lives in West Ellicott with his wife Gina and their children.