Posted at: 05/15/2013 6:25 PM
Updated at: 05/15/2013 8:03 PM
By: Mark Mulholland
BALLSTON SPA - At the end of this year Jim Bowen will be walking out of the office he's held for more than 40 years.
Bowen, the Saratoga County sheriff, said Wednesday he's throwing his political clout behind Mike Zurlo, who worked under him for 32 years.
"I respect that man. He's been a true mentor to me when I was with the sheriff's department," Zurlo said. "And to hear that, I'm very pleased."
Zurlo's path to top cop is not without a challenge. He's opposed by former State Police Senior Investigator Jeff Gildersleeve, a former Marine and long-time resident of Ballston Lake. Both men respect each other, but they both want the Republican nomination.
"I think the people of Saratoga County expect and deserve to have a professional law enforcement agency, which they do," said Gildersleeve.
Zurlo is a lifelong resident of the county. He grew up in Mechanicville and lives in Stillwater.
He says there's no substitute for his 32-year tenure within the sheriff's office.
"All that experience makes me the right fit for sheriff," said Zurlo.
Gildersleeve, who now works for the Warren County Sheriff's Office, says his experience with multiple agencies is exactly what's needed.
"I bring a little something different to the table than the other candidates," he said. "And I think I would be a good choice for Saratoga County Sheriff."
Gildersleeve has the backing of the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee. Zurlo has the support of six town committees.
Both are opposed to the new SAFE act. Gildersleeve says if elected sheriff he would not enforce the new gun laws because "they're unconstitutional."