RENSSELAER COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) Sheriff Patrick Russo, is stepping down from his elected duties, leaving room for a new sheriff in town. NEWS10 met up with the candidates who are vying for the job. There are two candidates in the race for Rensselaer County Sheriff. One is a current sheriff deputy with the county, the other is a former Troy City Police Chief.

Republican candidate, Kyle Bourgault, says his number one priority is, “The opioid epidemic that’s going on not only here in this County but all over the state.”

On the ballot, Brian Owens is the democratic candidate. He’s also running on the liberty and justice party line.  He says, “school safety is a main priority.”

Both candidates praise the school resource officer programs and promise to keep them going.

“I was able to reinstitute the SRO for the school resource officer program and have officers assigned to schools. The Sheriff’s Department currently does have an SRO program so that’s something I would look to expand,” said Owens. 

“My undersheriff, Mike Denardo, actually wrote the SRO program as it existed back in 2016,” explained Bourgault.

Additionally, Rensselaer County Jail works directly with the federal government to help enforce immigration laws. While the outgoing sheriff fought hard for that partnership, Owens says he needs to know more about the program before he continues it.

“There are Questions regarding who’s been trained.  How often is it used? Is there a cost to the county? Is it effective in terms of the county and ICE for their goals?”

Bourgault says he feels it is a perfect fit. “It’s commonsense law enforcement. You can equate it to somebody having a warrant out of a different jurisdiction in the state and then calling that jurisdiction as they’re being released from the jail to see if they want them.”