An embattled former Corinth Police Officer will be seeking the office of Saratoga County Sheriff in the 2009 election, using his personal struggle against what he calls the countywide Republican machine as the platform for his candidacy.
Jason Longton was fired from the Corinth Police Department in 2004 when he continued an investigation into claims of sexual harassment at an area business after superiors ordered him to stop. Since then, he has been involved in legal battles to regain his position and back pay that are ongoing.
The Corinth Police Department has since been dissolved, and the village is served by the Sheriff's Office. Officers in the village department were offered jobs with the Sheriff's Office.
Longton maintains that his firing was a political action, and said he is running for sheriff to restore transparency and accountability to the office.
I just want to go out there and do the right thing, he said.
Longton called Sheriff James Bowen a "puppet" for the county GOP leadership and said that experienced law enforcement officers should be running the show.
"I don't think the police department should be associated with any political official," he said. "For them to have any sore of input in a police department is insane."
Bowen " who did not return calls for this report " was first elected in 1972. He has not said whether he will seek the post again.
Longton said he will be running a grassroots campaign to collect the signatures needed to get on the November ballot as an independent candidate.
"I'll be running as an independent, I don't want any affiliation with any of the parties," he said. "We need an individual in there who's a neutral party, and who's going to let the officers do their job."
Also running for sheriff is Schenectady County corrections officer Michael DiGioacchino, who announced his intent to seek the Republican nomination in December. He has said that the county jail needs to be toughened up to prevent crime from growing.
Commissioners at the Saratoga County Board of Elections said that the signature requirements for petitions to be placed on the 2009 election ballot will not be set until the time to campaign grows closer.