Union president affirms Cortland County sheriff endorsement

CORTLAND, N.Y. –Following last week’s confusion as to whether or not members of the County Police Association of Cortland voted to endorse Mark Helms for county sheriff, the union’s president has issued a statement that he says clarifies the group’s recent endorsement.


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David Tobias issued a statement Monday affirming the union’s endorsement of Mark Helms, the village of Homer police chief who is running for county sheriff in the November election.

Following CPAC’s endorsement last week, some union members came forward to challenge the endorsement, saying a meeting was held in June where members voted not to support any candidate in the election.


Related: Cortland County police union at odds over sheriff endorsement


Tobias said Monday that more than one-third of union members were unable to attend that meeting. He said union leadership continued to gather votes in the days and weeks after the meeting took place.

“After the voting was completed, the majority of the membership chose to endorse a candidate in the upcoming election. Of that majority, 95 percent chose to endorse Mark Helms and the remaining 5 percent chose to endorse Herb Barnhart,” Tobias said.

Tobias said the entire process was reviewed and approved by the New York State Union of Police Associations, or NYSUPA, which has also endorsed Helms for sheriff.

Tobias added that Helms did not seek the union’s endorsement, and that the union’s decision was “based on the sole belief that Mark Helms is the most qualified candidate” for sheriff.

“Our membership’s primary focus has and always will be keeping Cortland County safe,” Tobias said. “We are not fighting with each other and we are always focused on ‘fighting crime,’ and to imply otherwise is an insult to the men and women we represent.”


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