LYONS — The Wayne County Democratic Committee is backing a Macedon Police Department sergeant for county sheriff.

The committee, which met Saturday, designated Steve MacNeal as the party’s candidate. Last month, the county’s Republican and Conservative parties endorsed sheriff’s office Lt. Rob Milby over MacNeal and Rich Martin, a former Newark and Rochester police officer.

“We are pleased to designate Steve MacNeal as our candidate for county sheriff due to his commitment to serving all county residents, regardless of background,” county Democratic Chairman Mark Alquist said in a news release. “We are enthusiastic about supporting Steve’s robust campaign.”

Sheriff Barry Virts announced last year he would not seek reelection for a fourth four-year term.

MacNeal began his career as a Wayne County deputy in 1998 and transferred to the Irondequoit Police Department in 2002. He joined the Macedon PD in 2014, where he serves as administrative sergeant.

MacNeal said the sheriff’s office can be more responsive to the challenges the county’s communities face, a vision Alquist said is shared by county Democrats. Among MacNeal’s initiatives are support for officer mental health, training for mental health crisis response, education for officers on de-escalation technique, and addressing the call for police reform.

Alquist said the committee’s vote came after a three-month vetting process, which showed MacNeal was qualified due to his professional experience and vision of local law enforcement. Alquist said MacNeal was the only candidate seeking the Democratic endorsement.

“This vetting process was difficult, but I’m happy it was a long process,” MacNeal said. “The folks on the Democratic committee asked tough, difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable questions, but it was necessary. This process not only made me a better police officer, but it made me a better person. This designation shows these folks are willing to cross the aisle and move beyond party lines because they’ve looked at our campaign initiatives, and they recognize that we can make a difference here in Wayne County.”

Alquist said although MacNeal is not a registered Democrat, the committee identified him as a candidate who will support diverse communities and adopt law enforcement policies and practices that more equitably serve all county residents.

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