A longtime local member of law enforcement has made it official…Todd Baxter is a candidate for Monroe County Sheriff.
The announcement happened in Greece on Saturday at the Airport Marriott.
Baxter made the announcement before a crowd that including a host of well-known local Democratic politicians, including Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and County Clerk Adam Bello.
What made this announcement a little unusual is that Baxter has been a lifelong Republican, until last Friday when he says he switched his party registration to run for sheriff against GOP Incumbent Patrick O’Flynn, who is seeking a 5th term.
Baxter spent more than 20 years in the Rochester Police Department, is also a former Greece Police Chief, and most recently headed up the Veterans Outreach Center. He has known O’Flynn a long time, and respects him.
“But the fact is I believe there’s new need for vision, organizations get stagnant, the deputies are hurting right now, you can hear it, you can talk to them, you can see it in the contracts and this community is suffering,” he told WXXI News.
Baxter doesn’t think the fact that he is switching parties should be viewed as an indication there is any big shift in his overall philosophy.
“I believe in things that cross party lines, if you think about it, safety of the community crosses party lines, helping young people who might be in positions that aren’t very fruitful or helpful for them as they move forward; alternatives to incarceration, why are we putting young kids in jail if we don’t have to, those are all things that cross party lines, so my values haven’t changed.”
Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn released this statement:
“The people of Monroe County deserve the very best in law enforcement and someone who is committed to upholding the longstanding tradition of excellence that has elevated the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to one of the most respected law enforcement agencies in the nation. As your Sheriff for the last 16 years, I’m proud to say that I’ve helped to build that reputation of excellence through a variety of improvements and initiatives that have made our community safer.
"I’m proud of my record of accomplishments, but my work as Sheriff is far from over. Whether it was my time as a road patrol deputy, firearms instructor, SWAT Commander, or Undersheriff for 13 years overseeing the jail, I have always met every challenge head-on with professionalism and integrity, and this election will be no different.
"I am honored the voters of Monroe County have put their trust and confidence in me to serve as their Sheriff, especially during this time when public safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”
Here is video of the first part of Baxter's announcement: