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Regional Archives The Altamont Enterprise, June 30, 2011

Craig Apple in place for sheriff
Undersheriff is the Apple of Democrats’ eye

By Jo E. Prout

ALBANY COUNTY — Former Undersheriff Craig Apple is now the acting sheriff here, after the immediate resignation last Thursday of James Campbell, who held the post for decades. Apple received the Albany Democratic Party’s designation for nomination last Thursday to run for sheriff this fall.

“It was very humbling. I was very excited, very grateful …to represent them on the Democratic ticket,” Apple told The Enterprise this week. He said that, like Campbell, he would have an open-door policy. His job, he said, is to “enhance law enforcement, enhance public safety, and represent the public.”

Albany County Democrats held a designating caucus last Thursday, June 23. Democratic Chairman Matthew J. Clyne told The Enterprise that Apple had the support of the full committee of over 600 people.

“Craig Apple was the clear consensus candidate. He clearly had the support,” Clyne said. “There were no surprises at the caucus.”

Party candidates

Campbell, a Democrat from Colonie, was in his sixth term as sheriff when he retired, having held the post for 21 years. Before that, he worked as a State Trooper for 24 years. Campbell was last elected sheriff in November 2009.

Three others sought the party’s nod before the caucus Thursday, including former Altamont Commissioner Anthony Salerno.

 Salerno, who could not be reached for comment this week, left his Altamont post about six months ago. He had refused to say whether or not he took a May 2010 Civil Service test required for all those in charge of municipal police departments. Salerno had been provisionally hired five years earlier with the requirement he pass the exam.

Chief Detective Anthony Ryan of the Albany Police Department bowed out of the race earlier than the others, citing time away from his young family as a deterrent to continuing.

Homeland Security member James Horton applied for the nomination, too. He could not comment further, he told The Enterprise earlier.

 Apple faced scrutiny two weeks ago, when he announced his intent to seek the nomination.

Apple, with more than 20 years with the sheriff’s department, allegedly was recorded in a taped session participating in an attempt to falsely entice witnesses to accuse Corianna Thompson for the March 13, 2005 murder of her mother, Jean Balashek; the two lived together in a New Scotland house.

Under New York State Law, law enforcement officers are allowed to make false statements while pursuing arrests. The incriminating tape made headlines this month.

“The people in the county will see through that,” Apple told The Enterprise earlier. “I’ve made it no secret that I want to be sheriff. When you’re out there, you take some shots. I’ve got broad shoulders.”

Apple said this week that the job should be non-partisan.

“My job is to protect and serve,” he told The Enterprise. “I hope the public gives me an opportunity to prove myself.”

While no Republican candidates have stepped forward yet, Clyne said, “That’s not to say that one could not emerge.” Albany County is dominated by Democrats.

Clyne continued, “Anytime there is not a candidate running, you have mixed emotions. Generally speaking, it’s not a positive…and it affects voter turnout down the line.”

In the meantime, Apple is serving as undersheriff and taking on the sheriff’s additional duties.

“He’s quite familiar,” Clyne said. “He came up through the ranks. It’s always different, though, being on top, being subjected to outside influences he was not aware of until he became a candidate. It’s a big department. There’s a lot going on that he was not dealing with directly.”

 Apple told The Enterprise that he plans to use a “different methodology” than Campbell.

“There is nothing wrong with change,” he said. “It’s a big department, with stressful times with the budget restructured. It’s a very stressful job. You need to have a lot of energy, to do more with less.”

Apple is looking for ways to generate revenue while keeping the burden off taxpayers, he said.

“I want to get really aggressive with grant-writing,” he said.

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