Former Sheriff Gary Maha has decided to run for the District 9 seat on the County Legislature and incumbent Ed DeJaneiro is taking it all in stride.
He's faced opposition before, he said, and hopes come election day voters will look at his long years of service to the community and 10 years experience in the Legislature and decide in his favor.
"I respect that fact that he wants to run for this office," DeJaneiro said. "I think it’s critical though that they look at what’s going on right now before they make the final decision to vote for one or the other. There are things related to many, many years of understanding and experience in regard to some of these decisions coming up. It’s more than just the jail. Mr. Maha is a wonderful person and I’m sure he means well, but I think there is a large learning curve."
After Maha decided to run, DeJaneiro said he got a courtesy call from the former lawman and DeJaneiro said Maha told him he wanted to work on the jail project.
The county is being pressured by the state to replace its decades old and outdated jail with a new facility.
Reached while on vacation, Maha said it's more than just the jail that interests him in a seat on the County Legislature. He thinks his years of leadership experience and training will be an asset on an array of issues. He thinks he can help the Legislature prioritizing the use of the county's resources rather than just turn to the taxpayers for more money. But, yes, the jail is important and he's got some experience with the topic.
"I told him I think I could be an asset to voters of District 9 when it comes to the topic of building a new jail because I operated a jail for 29 years," Maha said.
That isn't the only issue that interests him, he said. (We'll talk with Maha in more depth about his reasons for running and other county issues when he's back from vacation).
DeJaneiro has indicated he favors looking more closely at a shared services agreement with another county.
"With the jail, in particular, we have to look at things very closely in respect to our needs and if there is any opportunity to build a joint jail with another county, and other counties that have the same criteria as we do, whereby the state is requiring them to have a more modern jail," DeJaneiro said. "We’re all going to be faced with the same expensive task of building a new jail, and I mean expensive. I’m talking around $35 million."
There are other issues facing the county, DeJaneiro said, where he thinks his experience is an advantage.
"I’ll tell you, it’s one of those situations where I have worked hard for residents and I’m very concerned about some of the upcoming things such as property taxes," DeJaneiro said. "Property taxes are something that is really hurting us more than we think. Everything is based on and paid for by property taxes. We don’t collect income tax and property taxes is something I’m concerned about. We have a lot of upcoming expenses and things happening."
He's especially focused, he said, on protecting the city's share of the county's sales tax.
"I'm working really hard on trying to make sure the county, Geneses County, lives up to what they promised the City of Batavia in respect to shared sales tax, which means millions of dollars for the City," DeJaneiro said. "Without that, we’re not in good shape in the city if we don’t continue to get our share of the sales tax."
The other big issue, DeJaneiro said, is water.
"The water situation in Genesee County is one that we need more water distributed to various portions of the county that don’t have it and need it, but again, it’s a very expensive ordeal," DeJaneiro said. "That wouldn’t necessarily mean our property tax. It is a special fund for that, but still an expense and we have to watch out for our residents, especially those on a fixed income, which is many of us."
News partner WBTA contributed to this story.