BROOME, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – On January 1st, Broome County will have a new Sheriff in town for the first time since 1998.

The 2 candidates running to succeed retiring Sheriff Dave Harder know each other very well, both professionally and personally.

Republican Fred Akshar and Democrat Kate Newcomb have both spent significant time working for the department.

Below Akshar shares why he wants to return after 7 years as State Senator.

Fred Akshar grew up in Afton and spent 15 years in law enforcement, first with the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office before transferring to Broome. He says Broome County was a coveted police position when he arrived but a lot has changed since then.

“Clearly, the attitudes and policies of the last 30 to 40 years have created a couple of things from my perspective: stagnation and the lowest morale we’ve seen in a decade with respect to the agency,” says Akshar.

Akshar says it’s that dissatisfaction which lead members of the union representing the law enforcement division of the office to overwhelmingly endorse him. They are the same officers who currently report to his opponent Kate Newcomb. Akshar says his time away from the badge has given him a fresh perspective on how the Sheriff’s department interacts with and is perceived by the community.

“The reality is when you spend a significant amount of time in one particular space, you begin to view the world through a very small keyhole.”

Akshar says the most pressing issue facing the department now is a crisis in staffing in the jail. He says a shortage of corrections officers is posing a danger to both the officers and the inmates. He suggests suspending the associates degree requirement for hiring, negotiating with the union to allow some part-time positions and then a major push to attract new CO’s.

Akshar wants to, “Really put significant investment, time, energy and financial resources into a recruitment program.”

Akshar says he wants to open the Sheriff’s Office up to collaborations with local agencies that he’s gotten to know through his time as Senator. He wants to give local stakeholders a seat at the table.

“That is the only way that you move the community forward by allowing the community to be part and parcel to the decisions or the direction that the agency goes.”

Akshar says that if you like the current direction of the Sheriff’s Department, then don’t vote for him. He says the election offers a clear choice between the status quo and a dynamic new leader.

Akshar says he would be, “Not just a boss, not just somebody with a fancy title, but somebody that can bring people together. Can bring the organization and the members of the organization together.”

Akshar says he’s offering a new vision and a new energy to build a better tomorrow.

Besides working together at the Broome County Sheriff’s Office, Akshar and Newcomb were previously in a romantic relationship for 13 years.

Tomorrow evening, we will post a profile Captain Kate Newcomb.

You can find out more information about local races on the Your Local Election Headquarters page.