District Attorney Mike Violante has been doing a tremendous job as DA since being elected two years ago. By all indications, Violante's office is non-political, he himself stays out of local political battles and the result has been a DA's office that is respected and admired.
This isn't to say that Violante doesn't give financial support to candidates he likes. Quite frankly, we don't know if he does or not and we don't care. The point is he doing anything overt that would make people later call into question any motivations of his office.
We bring this issue up because newly-elected Sheriff Jim Voutour talked much the same way during the campaign about running a non-political Sheriff's Office....something that is sorely needed in that department. And now, we see invitations all over town that Voutour is being honored as Democrat for the Year in Lewiston and is raising money for candidates, etc. etc.
This is a very bad move for the county's top cop. Again, if Voutour wants to do some quiet support for candidates he likes, that his business. But getting so publicly involved in political campaigns in a local election year sends the message that the Sheriff's Department is not above politics but mired in them just like everybody else.
For example, now, that Voutour is the prince of the Lewiston Dems Ball, the next time he has a policy disagreement with someone like Lewiston Republican Legislator John Ceretto over something like homeland security, questions will arise over whether this is really about politics and elections and not public safety.
It was often said during the sheriff's campaign that Niagara County was fortunate to have two outstanding candidates in Jim Voutour and Ernie Palmer running and we couldn't go wrong with either one and that after the elections, politics would be put aside. Now, we see that's not the case.
Sheriff Voutour, you're making a mistake here. Take a page from DA Violante and remember that the public wants their law enforcement officials to stay clear of politics.