By Allison Collins
UNADILLA – Otsego County Sheriff hopeful Bob Fernandez hosted an informal meet-and-greet session Monday night at The Meeting Place on Main Street.
Owner Dwight Mott said Fernandez was one of a handful of local candidates invited to the village as part of a general desire to increase voter participation.
“I just reached out to candidates because it’s ‘The Meeting Place,’” Mott said, “and I want more people to get down to this corner of the county.”
Fernandez’s appearance in the village follows the heated Oct. 22 debate against longtime sheriff and incumbent, Richard Devlin Jr, held in Cooperstown.
Throughout Monday’s two-hour meet-and-greet, attended by roughly a dozen people, Fernandez underscored his motivation for running. The retired state trooper announced his candidacy for sheriff’s office in late April of this year.
“I can’t turn a blind eye to injustice,” Fernandez said, referring to allegations of nepotism made against his opponent. “It’s about being a responsible member of the community and, if you can make a positive change, then you step up.”
Devlin’s son, former Otsego County corrections officer Ros Devlin, was accused in January 2017 of threatening to kill himself in front of another corrections officer and “shoot up” schools in Milford and Oneonta. Fernandez has made his disavowal of Devlin’s involvement in the ensuing investigation a campaign hallmark.
“One of the things that flipped it for me,” Fernandez said Monday, “was his son threatening to shoot up a school. (Devlin) hides it, covers it up and it’s not the first time. That’s the reason I’m running, because someone’s got to stop the abuse of power.”