Endorsements vary in race for St. Lawrence County sheriff

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 5:27 PM EST
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - Three unions within the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office are weighing in on who should be the next sheriff by handing out endorsements. All are choosing a veteran member of the department and not the current undersheriff.

The race for St. Lawrence Sheriff kicked off in December when Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe announced he would retire.

Soon after, Undersheriff Sean O’Brien announced his candidacy.

In January, department Investigator Rick Engle announced he too wanted to become sheriff.

Both are running as Republicans.

Engle is picking up three endorsements from unions with members who work for the sheriff’s department.

One is the St. Lawrence County Corrections Supervisors Association.

“I definitely think that Rick will be much more likely to be inclusive of the deputies, of the corrections staff, of the administration that’s there for a reason,” said Rodney Votra, Corrections Supervisor’s Association.

Another union throwing its support behind Engle is the Sheriff’s Supervisor Association.

The union, in a statement, said it “is confident that Detective Rick Engle has the experience, integrity, and leadership qualities necessary to serve as the next sheriff of St. Lawrence County.”

The St. Lawrence County Deputies Association endorsed Engle by saying in a statement that “Rick’s integrity is unparalleled and he will continue his diligent work for all the citizens of this county.”

As for O’Brien, he has the backing of the St. Lawrence County Conservative Party.

O’Brien says he’s aware there have been changes within the department in the last few years.

“As the administrator, law enforcement’s gone on where there’s a lot of changes within over the last several years. In particular in the last three as your undersheriff and with those changes comes frustration and we’ve done the best we can with those changes and some of them are beyond our control,” he said.

The candidates will face off in a primary.

Early voting is from June 17 to 25, with primary election day on June 27.