Letters: Ulster County sheriff Democratic primary

(Cartoon by Bruce Ackerman)

Here are some of the letters we received regarding the Sept. 13 Democratic primary for Ulster County sheriff. For more, read our most recent article. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m.


KPD retirees for VanBlarcum

We, the undersigned, are retired members of the City of Kingston Police Department.  We collectively represent over 50 years of law enforcement experience. We have served in corrections, as patrolman, in the detective division, the narcotics unit, the marine unit, the emergency services unit, the training division and as supervisors in the patrol division. Our careers started in the 1980s, so we have been around long enough to know what’s what.

We submit this letter in enthusiastic support for our sheriff, Paul VanBlarcum. We have worked both within, and side by side with the Sheriff’s Office over these years. The Ulster County Sheriff’s Office has seen its finest accomplishments under the excellent leadership of Sheriff VanBlarcum. He has served in almost every position within the Sheriff’s Office, as well as serving his country in Bosnia training new police officers to begin the healing process in that war-torn land.


Sheriff VanBlarcum is well liked and well respected by the men and women with whom he serves, both within his department and in the many police agencies throughout the county. He has adeptly managed the drastic changes in law enforcement over this last decade and we need him in that office to continue his honorable, capable leadership. He has uniquely risen above petty partisan politics and led his department with dignity, honor, loyalty and professionalism. We need more of that in law enforcement.

We respectfully request that the voters of this county, whether republican, democrat, independent, liberal or conservative, cast their ballot for Paul VanBlarcum for sheriff.

Sgt. Scott Herrington, Kingston Police Department (Ret.)

Lt. James Maisenhelder, Kingston Police Department (Ret.)



Why I am voting for Juan Figueroa in the primary on September 13

Just about every Ulster County Fair since we moved to Gardiner 15 years ago, I forget to take the long way around to New Paltz and have to creep along Libertyville Road. So I was surprised this year to see a panel truck parked on the county pool property with a sign on its side that looked like an election sign for Paul VanBlarcum for sheriff. Looking at it carefully, I saw that the sign had no “for” on it, just VanBlarcum, sheriff, with the website of the sheriff’s office. So it wasn’t a campaign sign but sure tried to fool those of us driving by.

But seeing that sign left a bad taste in my mouth; only this year when VanBlarcum is in a primary for the Democratic nominee for sheriff has this sign been shown. I think that this shows a lack of respect for the law. Add to that his exhortations for citizens to carry their guns in public; you can get a gun permit without any training. We don’t need any Wild West in Ulster County.

And then consider the civil rights suits filed against his department. Those are some of the reasons why I am voting for Juan Figueroa in the Democratic primary on Thursday, September 13.

Andi Weiss Bartczak



Getting to know Juan Figueroa

I’m Juan Figueroa and I’m running for Ulster County Sheriff in the Thursday, September 13, Democratic primary. We may have met these past few months when I was knocking on doors to introduce myself or at one of our meet and greets. Whether we’ve met or not, I want you to know my plans for the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office before you head to the polls on Thursday and then again in November.

I was a U.S. Marine for 22 years. I was a NY State Trooper for 25 years and a member of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. I patrolled the streets of Ulster County, took down drug cartels, fought corruption and abuse of power. Both my military and law enforcement experience have prepared me to effectively enact positive change in our community, whether it’s fighting the opioid and heroin epidemic, working on community policing or ensuring that everyone is treated equally under the law.

Under my tenure as sheriff, we will comprehensively address the opioid epidemic. The sheriff’s office will work with mental health and addiction specialists, schools, communities and families to get people the help they need — if they are ready to kick their habit. We will work to freeze the money of drug dealers and hold drug companies accountable. We will educate the public on signs of emerging drug behaviors before their loved ones become addicted.

As sheriff, our office will strengthen community-police partnerships. This will include smart, effective training, participation in public forums and building trust between the police and all neighborhoods. We will reach out to at-risk youth to intervene before they engage in hardcore criminal behavior. As we uphold the law, everyone will be treated fairly. I will emphasize that respect goes both ways. The vast majority of our police deserve our thanks for their efforts in keeping us safe.

The sheriff’s job is to enforce the law, not make the law. We are bound by due process. For instance, only immigrants convicted of a felony or facing an outstanding warrant will be reported to ICE. Our community is safer when people regardless of immigration status call the sheriff’s office to report crime, suspicious activities, domestic violence, downed live wires, gas odors in buildings and other potential dangers.

And to the rank and file of the sheriff’s office, I will work to keep morale high and build a diverse workforce. My job will be to train and equip you to do the best job you can and make sure you get home safely to your families at the end of your shift.

Please check out my website www.figueroaforsheriff.com to learn more. But mostly, I urge you to vote on Thursday, September 13. It’s your fundamental right and a cornerstone of our democracy.

Juan Figueroa



Vote for Paul VanBlarcum

In the decades since I was first introduced, long distance, to Sheriff Paul VanBlarcum, it is with respect for him, for the tremendous job he has done helping to keep our county safer, and his sincere interest for all people, especially we of Ulster County, that I write in support.

At a county Democratic meeting sometime in the late 1990s, we were told of Paul VanBlarcum who was serving the United Nations International Police Force in Bosnia, which was going through a terrible war. Paul had a personal mission — to deliver shoes to the people who were suffering horrible atrocities and shortages of basic necessities. His background includes a 1998 tour of service for the United Nations International Police Task Force in war-torn Bosnia, where he organized ‘Operation Cinderella’, a shoe drive that gathered over 17,000 pairs of shoes for the needy people of that country. When Paul returned home to Ulster County, we finally got to meet him personally and thank him for the humanitarian work he took upon himself, aside from the danger he faced daily.

Over the years, we were fortunate that Paul had the helm of the sheriff’s department. Whether battling gangs, domestic violence, keeping our streets safe, Paul has been an honest, fiscally conservative and fearless law enforcement leader. When the early endemic opioid crisis struck, Paul had the initiative to create the multi-agency URGENT, and his office has been teaching every law enforcement agency, and civilians, how to save lives using Narcan.

Yes, Paul VanBlarcum is bold. He is quiet yet outspoken, and yes, he is not afraid to think outside the box. I, for one, am grateful for his abilities and his passion to continue to work for the residents of Ulster County. As the former vice chair of the Ulster County Democratic Committee, I encourage all Democrats to vote for Paul in the September 13 primary and on November 6 in the general election.


Michelle Tuchman




I support Juan Figueroa for Ulster County Sheriff

On Thursday, September 13, I will be voting for Juan Figueroa for Ulster County Sheriff in the Democratic primary. His decades as a U.S. Marine and NY State Trooper give him the experience to lead the sheriff’s office effectively and efficiently. Juan has terrific plans to improve community-police relationships with an emphasis on mutual respect. He will create a partnership among police, mental health professionals, educators and families to help curtail the opioid epidemic. Juan will enforce the law fairly where everyone will be treated equally under the law. I unequivocally support Juan Figueroa for Ulster County Sheriff.

Ruth Levine



Juan Figueroa for Ulster County Sheriff

I urge all registered Democrats to vote for Juan Figueroa for Ulster County Sheriff in the Democratic primary on Thursday, September 13 from noon to 9 p.m. He comes to this race with four years as an active-duty Marine, 22 years in the Marine Corps Reserve and 25 years with the State Police as a trooper patrolling our roads, a teacher at the police academy, a field training officer and an investigator with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He has shown the best instincts for public service and will bring best practices for effective law enforcement to leadership of the Sheriff’s Office.

Juan Figueroa will not politicize the office of sheriff. He will enforce the law fairly and equitably. He knows that law enforcement is strengthened when it actively seeks community involvement. He knows that busting drug dealers must go hand-in-hand with treatment and rehab for opioid addiction. He respects the rights of immigrants and will adhere to due process of law by reporting to ICE only those who have been convicted of a felony. He knows that all families under stress need to be confident that they can trust the police. He knows that the county is safer when citizens leave their guns at home.

For these and other reasons, the Ulster County Democratic Committee has enthusiastically endorsed him. He also has the endorsement of the town committees of Woodstock, Kingston, New Paltz, Ulster, Olive, Saugerties, Esopus, Plattekill, Marbletown, Rosendale, Shawangunk, Gardiner and Rochester.

With Juan Figueroa as Ulster County Sheriff, I, for one, will feel safer knowing that my local police are armed with the knowledge, training and expertise to intervene in conflicts and crises, to handle the terrible dilemmas they face — often daily — at this fraught moment in our public life.

Helene Kendler

Lake Hill


Juan Figueroa, a sheriff for all of us

Calling all Democrats! There is a Democratic primary on Thursday, Sept. 13.

The Ulster County sheriff race is where you can have an impact. Juan Figueroa is vying for the spot on the Democratic ticket, versus incumbent Paul VanBlarcum.

Juan is a Marine 22-year veteran and has 25 years with the New York State Police. He has patrolled in Ulster County. Juan wants to implement outreach programs that address the opioid crisis, based on early intervention and tighter opioid legislation, not incarceration.

VanBlarcum does not deserve the Democratic line because he does not espouse democratic values. Van Blarcum called for Ulster County residents with concealed carry permits to begin carrying their weapons full-time after one of the tragic mass shootings. He also does not support sensible gun policies.

He called for a boycott of NFL games after some football players “took a knee” during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

VanBlarcum’s hard-line policy of reporting immigrants to ICE goes far beyond the law’s requirement. Only immigrants convicted of a felony need to be reported to ICE, not everyone stopped.

Join the Democratic town committees of Olive, Kingston, Woodstock, Saugerties, Marbletown, New Paltz, Rosendale, Rochester, Esopus, Plattekill, Shawangunk and Gardiner in their endorsement of Juan Figueroa! The Sheriff’s Department needs a fair approach to law enforcement serving the people of our community, while upholding the laws. Juan is for all of us, not just some of us.

Maria DeFranco


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