MAYVILLE — Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace will quickly get up in a brand new 12 months and into the subsequent section of his life, however with out the badge he’s worn for 24 years.
“It’s been my life for nearly a quarter-century,” Gerace mentioned throughout an interview.
On election night time contained in the Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge, Gerace realized he would not characterize the county because the sheriff. In entrance of household, supporters and media members, the unofficial outcomes painted an unfavorable image for Gerace. And earlier than the unofficial outcomes had been closing, he conceded the race. Gerace, the longest operating sheriff within the county who had been elected and re-elected 4 different instances, had lastly misplaced.
Republican challenger Jim Quattrone emerged victorious with 22,114 votes to Gerace’s 19,126.
“This wasn’t the end result we had been on the lookout for,” Gerace mentioned on the time.
He thanked his supporters and his household because the night time drew to an in depth. However within the morning, Gerace nonetheless had a job to do — even when it was a “unhappy day,” as he described it.
For the final two months, Gerace has been busy fulfilling his remaining duties because the sheriff whereas additionally cleansing out his workplace.
Gerace started with the Sheriff’s Workplace in 1978 with the boat patrol solely part-time for 2 summers. Later, he secured a job as a full-time deputy and rapidly turned a criminal offense scene investigator. Then in 1995, he was elected sheriff.
However what occurs to a sheriff as soon as he’s not main a division of deputies, particularly after virtually 1 / 4 century of his life has been consumed within the position? Properly if folks thought Gerace may need earned a trip or that he’d be taking day off after 24 years, they’re improper — Gerace isn’t .
“Not if I may help it,” Gerace mentioned sitting at his desk in his workplace positioned under framed pictures of the Starflight helicopters. “I’d like to maneuver into one thing as quickly as doable. Time without work and me don’t combine. I’m a employee, a workaholic. I take pleasure in it and I need to discover one thing that’s satisfying and proceed to contribute indirectly.”
Within the closing month of Gerace’s 24-year stint because the chief of the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Workplace, he appeared calm, at peace with the current election and content material with what has been achieved below his watch.
He highlighted the emergency medical technician program that has helped greater than 20 deputies turns into EMTs. The coaching can be included into the Sheriff’s Academy making certain that graduates are licensed upon launch.
Gerace mentioned he’s additionally pleased with the Sheriff’s Workplace accreditation and the enlargement of the Starflight program. The Sheriff’s Workplace is the one police entity in Chautauqua County moreover College Police on the State College of New York at Fredonia that’s accredited by way of the Division of Felony Justice Companies.
The Starflight program started previous to Gerace being elected below the management of late-Sheriff John Bentley. However throughout Gerace’s tenure as sheriff, the Starflight program was made cost-neutral by buying business helicopters versus free-military helicopters, permitting for the county to cost for flights. The associated fee for this system was greater than $300,000 yearly earlier than making the shift.
Gerace mentioned when he’s formally not sheriff, he’ll be prepared for what comes subsequent. Nonetheless, he didn’t let on as to what that is perhaps.
“I’m different choices. I’m different issues that is perhaps of curiosity to me and that will likely be fulfilling,” Gerace advised the OBSERVER. “I’ve spent my complete grownup life in public service and I wish to proceed in that enviornment if I can.”
When requested if he’d think about pursuing regulation enforcement, politics and even operating for sheriff once more, Gerace politely declined to take a position.
No matter what Gerace’s job appears like subsequent, outdoors of labor, his ardour for hockey will likely be unwaivered. He has coached for a few years, and continues to educate regionally. Two of Gerace’s kids play collegiate hockey presently.
“Hockey is my ardour,” Gerace mentioned.
Along with teaching hockey, Gerace is assured he’ll transfer into a brand new occupation rapidly after the brand new 12 months. No matter it might be, he hopes it will likely be in Chautauqua County — the place that he loves.
“I don’t fear about me as a lot. I really feel that I’ll discover one thing that’s rewarding and fulfilling,” Gerace mentioned. “It’s been a fantastic trip and I believe as some level it needed to finish, whether or not it was below this circumstance or one the place I made a decision to retire. So I form of mentally ready for that. It was going to be inevitable in some unspecified time in the future in time.”
Gerace mentioned, excluding his oldest youngster, his youngest kids have solely identified their dad as being sheriff. However for that matter, Gerace has solely identified himself as sheriff for the final 24 years. Nonetheless, Gerace mentioned he’s isn’t nervous about how he’ll deal with not being sheriff, and is optimistic that he’ll discover rewarding challenges in what he select to pursue subsequent.
“I’m going to overlook the folks — the people who work right here that I see everyday, little doubt,” he mentioned. “I’m going to overlook the general public service to the neighborhood. I take nice satisfaction in that. My availability to the general public, however extra so making the Chautauqua County a greater place to dwell. It’s been a problem, nevertheless it’s been very rewarding and that I’ll miss.”