Kenmore, NY (WBEN) - Two weeks away from the general election, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard and Candidates Bert Dunn and Dick Dobson staged a debate at St. Joe's High school.
The debate featured questions asked by a student panel, including one directed at Democratic Candidate Dick Dobson about comments he made on WBEN's Hardline with Dave Debo claiming that the Sheriff was "selling badges."
Dobson would not elaborate on his claim, but stood firm in his stance that the Sheriff employs unqualified volunteers. "People go to school, people take civil service exams, people go out of their way to get a Sheriff's job. You shouldn't be able to come in and say 'I'd like to have a badge.'"
"For a person who thinks he's a police professional to stand up and make an accusation like Mr. Dobson made, and then when asked about it say 'I think we're going to have our proof later,' imagine if police officers acted like that with you or your families," Howard told the audience in reply.
The debate also featured a few targeted one-liners.
"I think the literary term when you go for something and it's denied to you, to then denounce the process is called sour grapes" Howard said about Dunn when a question arose about Dunn switching parties.
Dunn struck back later in the debate. "If the Sheriff was doing a great job, I wouldn't run against him" Dunn said while answering a question about condidtions in the holding center.
Students also asked the candidates about the enforcement of the NY-SAFE Act, which Howard has said in the past he would not enforce. Both Dunn and Dobson said it isn't the Sheriff's place to decide which laws are or aren't enforced. "We will enforce all of the laws of the state of New York, Gentlemen that's whether we like the laws or not" said Dobson. "For a police officer to decide which laws are constitutional and which laws are not is aggregating the power and the authority of our judicial system. The courts will decide what's constitutional and what's not, not a local Sheriff."