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Esteban Gonzalez for “Sheriff,” Onondaga County

Readers, I need you to do something for me. Democrats and Republicans, I would like for you to vote for Esteban Gonzalez for Onondaga County Sheriff on November 8th, 2022. Esteban has been with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office for 28 years. Far too seldom do individuals come on the scene that clearly set the example for everything we should be. Individuals with extraordinary ability and elite expertise that shine far above the rest. In conversations with Esteban and watching him speak this has become impressively clear to me. His unique quality and expertise have contributed greatly to the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office being part of the finest Law Enforcement Organization in the Country. We need Esteban Gonzalez as the Sheriff of Onondaga County. Individuals that possess and know how to measure the heartbeat of humanity, compassion. And also know where to draw the line. That is Esteban Gonzalez and that is why this column is being written.

The Sheriff operates and maintains our Jails and oversees the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Police Deputies who along with the Civil Department, the Syracuse Police Department and the Onondaga County Corrections Officers make up the finest law enforcement organization in the country. I don’t say this lightly. I know these folks. I arrived in Syracuse in 1956. I have known hundreds of Officers over the years. Since January of 1992 we have had the finest District Attorney’s Office in the land along with the finest Police leadership, anywhere in the Country. Esteban has played a major role in this evolution and it is to us to elect our finest to maintain this awesome Force.

Esteban served 6 years with the United State Army National Guard, assigned to the 1st/108th Infantry Battalion. My regard for the Infantry is extremely high. They are the land force that secures ground, they rescue populations and clear any area. They fight hand to hand. They are the Calvary that comes to the rescue, they are the heartbeat of the American Fighting Force. They are indeed, the bravest and finest among us. I am humbled when I think of their mission and their great love of Country. 

Compassion in criminal justice is critical to protecting justice. It is recognizing variables that justly mitigate. It is the desire not impose punishments that do not fit the circumstances of the crime. It is the ability to separate dangerous criminality with intent, and again, ensuring compatible disposition. Crimes without remorse or mitigating circumstance are the areas where societal danger truly lies. In those with evil in their hearts little can be done to fix them.

Esteban is extremely concerned over the effects and attitudes of “for profit prisons.” These systems do not correctly embrace the variables I describe, as the pursuit of profits is the priority. “For Profit” prisons favor cheap and ongoing incarceration which has opened the door for widespread abuse. They have clearly passed through that door.  Esteban will work to fix this and strongly supports appropriate legislation.    

It is important to recognize there is an entire world of crime with varying degrees of intent, and varying degrees of mitigating circumstance and above all we must choose leaders that believe in these things less when we err, and we do, dispassion enters the system and needless and cruel human suffering is not recognized. I am asking you to vote for Esteban Gonzalez for Onondaga County Sheriff because he embraces these wisdoms and will transform words to deeds and will fully embrace and protect the finest that we can be. This is a vital decision that embraces the safety, fairness and quality of life for all of us. Few matters are of such importance. These decisions determine the quality of entire lands.    

Oversight of incarceration is an awesome responsibility. Balancing compassion with discipline offers a sense of self value to inmates within this system and embraces the deservedness of humanity and recognizes the vast contribution mental illness plays in this era of drugs, poverty and crime. Corrections Officers have an enormous responsibility balancing discipline and kindness among this diversity. They are genuine heroes and professionals that you too seldom hear about. Esteban Gonzalez is the right choice to guide this awesome responsibility. Here are a few of Esteban’s own words:

“There is no more efficient model of a jail that I’ve seen in the country… (referring to the Onondaga County Justice Center) and I’ve visited 190 jails.” Gonzalez told CNY Central’s Jim Kenyon. He says his assessment is based on his position as a nationally recognized expert on incarceration. As president of the American Jail Association, Esteban has testified before Congress and has been quoted in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal about the state of the nation’s jails and how to improve them.

He adds, “What I bring to this jail is a compassion beyond all compassion for the people that don’t have a voice, for the people that are the most needy in society… when they come here, it’s our job to treat them humane, to treat them safely and to give them everything available to the rest of the public.”

Gonzalez says he’s proud of the Justice Center and hopes more people become aware of what happens inside the walls of the county jail.

Of the nearly 2 million inmates being held in prisons and jails across the country, experts believe nearly 500,000 are mentally ill. According to staff at city and community jails, 25 percent of the jail population is severely mentally ill. However, when other mental illnesses, such as anti-social personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and depression, are included, the numbers are much higher, and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill NAMI puts the number of inmates suffering from both mental illness and substance abuse at well over 50 percent.

These mitigating demographics are highly prevalent in today’s criminal justice system.  The system has not kept pace with the great need for mental illness and rehabilitation confinement facilities. This has resulted in most of the American prison population serving penalties that do not fit the individual or their crime. And this further results in worsening the thinking of these individuals which lowers hope and causes high recidivism rates. Esteban Gonzalez understands this and with his significant range of influence on the Federal Level plans to influence thinking addressing the unique needs of the mentally ill and the addicted.

Esteban has accumulated an impressive array of qualifications over the years. This includes 10 years as Chief Deputy serving Sheriff Kevin Walsh and Sheriff Eugene Conway. He is strongly endorsed by John Walsh the host and creator of “America’s Most wanted.”  (See video on website – https://estebanforsheriff.com) He has served as Deputy Sheriff Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Chief Deputy of Corrections and Chief Deputy of Custody. For 16 years, 2005 – present, Esteban has been a member of the American Jail Association, a venue where ideas and innovation are born and become reality. He is a past member of the New York Women in Law Enforcement/NYWLE and current member of the Onondaga County Chapter of Chiefs of Police and Central New York Association of Chiefs of Police. Esteban is a Certified Correctional Trainer and a Certified Master Instructor for Criminal Justice Services along with many other high achievements and awards.

Please go to https://estebanforsheriff.com. Esteban’s resume is an intriguing read.  Directly under his photo you will see an outline of his 7-point plan for Law Enforcement excellence. Click on the red rectangle that says “READ MORE.” This will give you concise explanations for each part of the Plan. Great opportunities present themselves within a certain window and if not recognized great potential achievement disappears into time. Esteban Gonzalez is a rare, highly skilled individual that will serve our unique elite Sheriff’s Department and Corrections Department with great honor and distinction.  Esteban is the finest that we can be. Please vote for Esteban Gonzalez for Onondaga County Sheriff on November 8th.  

Bill McClellan