The Putnam Examiner

Sheriff Earns Endorsement from Putnam GOP—and Former Opponent

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By an overwhelming majority, Putnam County Sheriff Don Smith earned the Putnam Republican Committee’s endorsement during the annual GOP Convention Thursday night as the longtime incumbent seeks a fifth term in office.

Smith earned more than 100 committee votes over Republican challenger Andrew DeStefano, who only clinched a little more than 20 committee votes. DeStefano, a former NYPD captain and Patterson resident, intends to force a GOP primary if he’s able to secure enough petition signatures.

Smith has served as sheriff dating back to 2002. He’s widely considered one of the most prominent public figures in Putnam.

“Don Smith is very popular,” Republican Committee chairman Tony Scannapieco said.

Smith, in statement to The Putnam Examiner, called it “uplifting” to receive such a decisive endorsement from the leadership of the county Republican Party.

“I believe this strong support is also a testament to the outstanding performance by the hard working members of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and Correctional Facility on a daily basis in serving our Putnam County families and keeping our community a great and safe place to live, work and raise a family,” Smith said.

DeStefano told The Putnam Examiner political conventions are about reelecting incumbents and not actual public sentiment. He stressed the drug epidemic has overrun Putnam with Smith in office and there is still no comprehensive plan to rid Putnam of the abundance of drugs.

DeStefano said he has a law enforcement team assembled that will ensure he’s on the ballot for a primary and would be discussing how the sheriff’s department can eradicate drugs from Putnam during his campaign.

“Heroin declared war on Putnam County more than 6 years ago, we are in a crisis, yet the department is not in crisis mode, but rather status-quo mode,” DeStefano said.

One twist occurred during the convention when Kevin McConville, who ran against Smith twice, (once as a Democrat in 2009 and again as a Republican in 2013) seconded Smith’s nomination for sheriff on the Republican ticket, voicing support for his past opponent.

McConville, the Philipstown GOP Committee chairman and a former MTA police chief, held a fiery campaign against Smith in 2013. He said back then Putnam needed a sheriff “for everyone, not just the few who call Don Smith their ‘friend’ or political pal.” He even said, “Smith has no shame,” in reference to accusations he made about Smith mixing politics and government.

The attacks on Smith didn’t work. The sheriff won the Republican primary that year by a landslide. After his victory he recalled the campaign against him as the nastiest he’s faced.

Now four years later in a statement to The Putnam Examiner, McConville lauded the sheriff for keeping Putnam a secure county during his long tenure.

“Don Smith and I may have previously debated methodologies, however he has been successful in attaining a mutual goal of both of ours,” McConville said. “that being keeping Putnam County the safest county in New York State.”

McConville was also a vocal supporter of former district attorney Adam Levy, who has a terrible relationship with Smith. Levy sued Smith for defamation several years ago and the case is still making its way through the legal system.

Smith, for his part, said he was appreciative of McConville’s strong support.

“After hard fought campaigns, I believe you gain mutual respect for a worthy former opponent like Kevin McConville,” Smith said.

Scannapieco said of McConville’s reversal from a few years ago: “I guess he figured he’s not going to beat the sheriff so might as well support him.”

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