John Cooney, a former Troy police captain and well-known spokesman for the department, is “seriously considering” a run for Rensselaer County Sheriff, according to a number of sources.
And, while the sheriff does not run as a team with his undersheriff – the latter is appointed by the sheriff – his first choice for the number two spot is another former Troy police captain, Terry Buchanan.
Cooney’s name is the only one that will appear on the ballot. However, getting there may be a challenge for the political newcomer. He is an enrolled member of the Conservative Party and as such would either have to run on that line alone or seek permission from a major party to run on its line - a piece of paper known as a Wilson Pakula.
Meanwhile, Bob Ashe, the Hoosick Falls police chief, sent a letter to Republican committee members touting his extensive law enforcement history as well as his electability – he served on the North Greenbush Town Board from 2000 to 2004. In 1978 he began work as a dispatcher, moved up to corrections officer and then to the North Greenbush Police Department where he earned the rank of sergeant. He has started a Facebook page touting his candidacy.
Mahar’s undersheriff, Pat Russo, another ex-Troy cop, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate should Sheriff Jack Mahar not seek a third term.
Also, former North Greenbush Police Chief Rocco Fragomeni is said to be interested. He was a lifelong Democrat but recently changed his enrollment to Republican.
What the Republicans do depends largely on what Mahar does. It is clear many in the party would rather he not but will likely hold their nose and back him rather than engage him in a primary. As of this writing, he has not formally said one way or another and party leaders say he has not reached out to them either. (As an aside I didn’t even try calling him because he has not returned a phone call since the last time he ran… and even that was iffy)
Mahar beat back a spirited challenge four years ago by Gary Gordon, another former Troy cop and a registered Conservative who ran with Democratic Party backing.
To say the race was contentious is an understatement. In the end, a handful of people filed lawsuits alleging Mahar and his staff inappropriately and illegally accessed their medical records and two officers of the now dissolved jail guard’s union came under a federal investigation for misappropriating union funds.
Gordon, who was also dirtied up during the campaign, has yet to decide if he will take another run at Sheriff.