Now that Primary Day has come and gone, those in Erie County are a step closer to finding out who the next sheriff of the county will be.
The race for the next Erie County sheriff is on. Canisius College's director of public safety and retired BPD deputy commissioner Kimberly Beaty is slated to be on the Democratic line on Election Day in November, while retired Buffalo Police Detective John Garcia is expected to be the Republican candidate. Neither picked up their party's endorsement, but the two came out on top on Primary Night on Tuesday.
"I was optimistic going in and I was happy with the return,” said Beaty.
"Very excited, it was a great night for all," Garcia said.
Sheriff Tim Howard, who isn't running for re-election, has been criticized for the multiple deaths at the Erie County Holding Center during the tenure of his administration. In 2020, the Sheriff's Office introduced plans to transfer some aspects of the operations and select inmates from the holding center in downtown Buffalo to the Alden Correctional Facility. Both candidates tell Spectrum News 1 their plans for the two facilities require some legwork.
"I'm going to have to take a look at how COVID and bail reform impact the population in each facility,” Garcia said. “We have to take a look at and see if that was an aberration or if it's going to go back to the normal population in both facilities."
"I have to do a feasibility study to see what is actually happening there,” Beaty said. “I have to get inside and communicate and find out what's going on. Right now, I would not put a plan in place to close anything until I absolutely know what is needed."
The calls for police reform intensified last year following the death of George Floyd, which sparked protests all over the country including in Western New York.
"We have to make sure that we hear the voice of the community,” said Beaty. “We have to make sure that our officers are safe. We have to make sure that we're doing right for everyone.”
"Every police officer that I've ever worked with, they want a strong internal affairs, professional standards division, because the good people, which is the vast majority of law enforcement, wants the bad apples to not be employed in law enforcement," said Garcia.
Garcia says some of the issues law enforcement face are the surge in gun violence in Buffalo, the opioid epidemic and the mental health crisis. Meanwhile, Beaty believes inmate care and treatment at the holding center and correctional facility have been big concerns locally.
"I am the perfect candidate at this time that brings a diverse background and the experience from both the public and the private sector," Garcia said.
"I'm the best person for the job and I felt like I had an obligation and I still feel that way,” Beaty said. “I have an obligation to the community to give them more and better."
When asked whether or not they would participate in a debate, Beaty and Garcia both said they would participate.