Dan Hust | Democrat
SULLIVAN COUNTY SHERIFF Mike Schiff, with his daughter Reia and son David, makes his announcement yesterday at Mr. Willy's in Monticello.
Schiff wants another term as Sheriff
By Dan Hust
Deputy Stephenson aims for top spot
MONTICELLO Sullivan County Sheriff Michael Schiff announced yesterday afternoon what many had expected.
He wants to serve another four-year term as the county’s chief law enforcement official and is asking voters to support him this November.
As the incumbent, he’s not facing any known competition from within his Republican Party, though a member of his staff, Deputy Keith Stephenson, hopes to land the Democratic nomination to challenge him.
Republican Party Chair John LiGreci told the hundred people gathered at Mr. Willy’s Restaurant in Monticello yesterday that Schiff can stand on many accomplishments.
“Mike Schiff, beyond a reasonable doubt, is by far the best sheriff we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “... He has made a major difference in our lives to make them better.”
That includes forming a Tactical Response Team, re-establishing the K-9 program, increasing deputies’ salaries to reduce turnover, instituting an Internal Affairs Division to investigate allegations of employee wrongdoing, and resurrecting of the DARE program, despite the state’s withdrawal of funding support.
“As long as I am sheriff,” Schiff vowed to an applauding crowd, “there will continue to be a DARE program in Sullivan County.”
The former state trooper, however, gave much of the credit to his staff, many of whom labor in the 100-year-old jail under what he termed “deplorable conditions.” (A new jail is in the works, he was proud to add.)
Schiff, 56, is a Liberty native, where he lives with his wife Christine and four children: Reia, Lila, Dara and David.
By Dan Hust
ROCK HILL Keith Stephenson knows he’s in for a potentially tough fight.
He’s planning, after all, to run against his own boss, Republican Sheriff Michael Schiff.
And the 38-year-old deputy may also be facing a battle for the Democratic nomination he seeks, as well-known Democrat and County Legislator Frank Armstrong continues to ponder a run for sheriff.
In the meantime, Stephenson, a Liberty native and 14-year veteran of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, is planning to make an official announcement about his bid later this month.
On Thursday, he offered a sneak preview of his reasons to the Democrat.
“I’ve seen so many things during the last 15 years that haven’t changed,” he lamented of his Monticello workplace. “I would like to change the office’s culture and values.”
Stephenson doesn’t believe Sheriff Schiff and his administrative team realize how much change is needed, partly because Schiff, a former state trooper, has logged only a few years with the Sheriff’s Office.
“I don’t think their primary goals are to benefit the public,” Stephenson said. “They’re generally focused on statistics.”
Stephenson has proudly served as a patrol officer his entire time with the Sheriff’s Office, but now armed with a master’s in public administration, he wants to move up the ladder in the place he’s gained all his experience.
He did admit he’s only been a registered Democrat for the past year and will have to think long and hard if he loses a potential Democratic primary, but Stephenson already has a website, www.stephenson4sheriff.com, and welcomes the chance to speak with any county resident about his eagerness to serve them.
“I feel passionate about the Sheriff’s Office because I’ve been there 15 years,” he remarked.