ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) – There appears to be a new sheriff in town for Erie County.

Republican John C. Garcia declared himself the winner the race for Erie County Sheriff on Tuesday night while holding a small lead on Democrat Kimberly Beaty.

With all the votes in Wednesday morning, Garcia leads Beaty by about 5,600 votes, 99,611 to 94,013. We’re told there are about 11,000 absentee ballots to count, though Beaty would need to win them overwhelmingly to make up the difference.

Independent candidate Ted DiNoto got 13,258 votes (6.2%) while Conservative Karen Healy-Case got 7,383 votes despite ending her campaign prior to the election and backing Beaty.

Garcia is a retired Buffalo Police officer who served as the crisis management team commander. Beaty is the current public safety director at Canisius College and a former Buffalo Police Deputy Commissioner.
DiNoto is an Amherst Police detective lieutenant.

At a recent candidate’s forum, Garcia said he is focused on improving conditions and safety in holding centers – training officers to handle mental health situations, stopping the surge in violence, and expanding the professional standards division.

Garcia says he is the first Hispanic person to hold the office of Erie County Sheriff.

The election decided who follows Sheriff Tim Howard, who held the position for 16 years.