Unlike 2011, Onondaga County voters will actually have someone other than Joanie Mahoney to choose from for county executive on the ballot this November. The county democratic committee Thursday evening designated two-time sheriff candidate Toby Shelley to challenge two-term incumbent Republican Mahoney.
"The designation went well. I mean, I was the only candidate, so it was a tough one for Toby Shelley to lose."
As of now, Shelley says it just looks like a two-way race in the general election.
"It doesn't mean someone someone else may not pass petitions. That's up to them, and that would force a primary."
Shelley says gathering petition signatures is the next step in the process, and he’ll be getting out there within the next week or so.
"Petitioning starts June 2nd; that's when people sign a petition saying you deserve to have your name on the ballot."
Shelley has to round-up 2,000 signatures by July 9th. he says seeking the county’s top post wasn’t even his idea.
"I actually kind of got recruited for it. They had to convince me why should I do this. As I started to look into it, I thought it was very important that the people of Onondaga County have a choice in this race. We don't live in an autocracy, we live in a democracy, and to have democracy, you have to have a choice."
But county voters have rejected Shelley twice at the polls when they’ve had a choice for sheriff. He lost against Gene Conway last fall, and four years earlier against long-time incumbent Kevin Walsh. Shelley retired from the sheriff’s department as a sergeant in 2011, and has been a member of the military for 30 years. He currently runs his family farm in Otisco and volunteers at the local fire department.