In what has proved to be the most heated race in the upcoming election Pasco Sheriff Bob White is facing a fierce challenge from a former lieutenant in his agency, Robert Sullivan.
White, 58, the two-term Republican incumbent, and Sullivan, a 26-year veteran of the agency, have traded verbal barbs over the course of the campaign on everything from the budget to White's perceived poor relationship with the union that represents deputies.
In addition to that strained relationship, White has been challenged at times to work with the County Commission. It was just last year that White came in asking for a budget increase of $11 million when the commission was looking to slash the county's overall budget by $16 million because of state-mandated property tax rate cuts. This year White submitted a budget reducing his budget by $1.1 million from the previous year as well as freezing salaries, which is a step in the right direction.
Sullivan, 46, is a well-respected law enforcement officer who worked his way up through the ranks to become the commander of the vice-narcotics and intelligence units. Having worked at the Sheriff's Office so long he understands the problems that exist at the agency and offers workable solutions to address those issues. Sullivan offers supervisory and administrative experience, having at one time overseen more than 85 employees while managing a $2 million budget. One major drawback is that Sullivan lives in Brooksville, but has said he plans to move to Pasco County if elected.
Even with the challenges White has faced during the last four years, however, it appears he is best positioned to carry forward with the agency. White needs to continue to improve his leadership skills. It obvious there are many issues within his agency that need to be addressed to increase overall morale.
The Pasco Sheriff's Office continues to provide services at about half the cost of similar agencies. White uses his volunteers to the fullest extent possible to bolster the agency's overall presence. He continues to search for ways to expand that program. His biggest challenge will be managing the jail addition and to secure adequate funding from the County Commission. We think White is up to the challenge.
The Suncoast News recommends Bob White in the Republican primary for Pasco County sheriff.
On the Democratic side, the race for Pasco County sheriff features Kim Bogart, a former Pasco Sheriff's Office captain, and Jeffrey Deremer, a 15-year probation and parole officer with the Florida Department of Corrections.
Both candidates have shown their desire to be sheriff having taken part in numerous debates throughout the county to discus their candidacy. Neither has shied away from answering questions put to them by the public.
Deremer, 38, a 34-year resident of Pasco County, says he would focus on administrative salaries - he believes many administrators are overpaid - as a way to redistribute funds within the agency in an effort to hire additional deputies. Deremer, who has a degree in criminology from Florida State University, said he would start by trying to return a portion of his salary to the agency if elected sheriff, which is commendable. Deremer's goal is to put at least 30 additional deputies on the street each year.
Deremer also favors a county DUI ordinance or fine that escalates to $1,000 for a third offense to supplement Sheriff's Office funding. He also plans to seek a $500 fine for those who violate terms of their probation.
Even with all of the new ideas and insight that Deremer offers, however, one thing he cannot is administrative experience or any comfort that he can handle a budget in excess of $85 million with more than 1,000 employees.
Unlike Deremer, Bogart appears to have the experience needed to run such an agency.
In addition to serving 16 years as a major and captain at the Pasco Sheriff Office, Bogart has spent the last seven years as a law enforcement and corrections accreditation consultant. Bogart would be able to bring here to Pasco County the experience and insight he's gained in reviewing other agencies around the state. Bogart plans to reallocate patrol deployment to match the county's demographics and criminal activity. He would also work to repair the void between the work force and management.
In the end Bogart's experience and familiarity with the agency make him the top choice in this primary.
The Suncoast News recommends Kim Bogart in the Democratic primary for Pasco County sheriff.