County GOP women host sheriff candidates

MARK LUSK

MARK LUSK

As budget numbers and staffing increases highlighted differences between the Lycoming County sheriff candidates, both the newcomer and incumbent expressed a desire help people and make change.

“I’m not just a young guy looking to run for sheriff,” candidate Chad J. Riley said. “I have a heart for the county.”

“When I get to the point that I’m no longer about new ideas and change then it’s time to retire,” county Sheriff Mark Lusk said. “I’m not about that yet.”

Riley and Lusk spoke to the Williamsport/Lycoming Council of Republican Women at the Genetti Hotel Monday afternoon. They both are running for the Republican nomination for sheriff in the May 16 primary election.

Riley asked the council to look past his youth, and claimed Lusk has spent too much money during his time as sheriff, increasing the budget from roughly $647,000 in 2010 to just over $1 million in 2017.

Lusk said the increase in spending over the past six years is due to multiple factors, including an increase in the criminal population, heroin use and an effort to increase security in the county courthouse. Even with the increase in spending and staffing over the years, Lusk said his office still is understaffed and remains very busy.

“We never have adequate or additional staff,” Lusk said.

Lusk said that most of the additional costs comes from the increase in staffing over the years, primarily by adding sheriff’s deputies to man security at the front of the courthouse. This job previously was handled by a private company that Lusk said did not provide adequate security.

Riley said he does not believe the courthouse entrance security requires full-time deputies and that the extra manpower is not worth the cost. He added that the county could use part-time constables instead.

Lusk countered that replacing

the private security company added $15,000 to the annual budget, and that in 2016 the deputies intercepted 32 guns coming into the building. After the transition an additional $200,000 was added to the sheriff’s budget, but the amount previously was paid by the county maintenance department, which managed the private company.

Despite his age, Riley said he has a lot of experience in law enforcement. After graduating from York College with a degree in criminal justice, Riley worked for about a year as a deputy sheriff in Adams County. He then went on to work for another year as a federal law enforcement officer at the federal penitentiary in Allenwood before moving to Trout Run, where he serves as a constable.

“I want to help people the best way I can,” Riley said. “And I want to do it the most cost-effective way possible.”

Lusk is running for his third term as county sheriff. He has been in law enforcement for over 40 years and is the vice president of the Pennsylvania State Sheriff’s Association.

“When people are safe, they don’t think they need resources,” Lusk said. “Somebody calls me for help, they get help.”

COMMENTS