DUNEDIN -- Incumbent Pinellas County sheriff will face off against a former one, along with four other challengers for the position, at a forum April 18 at the Dunedin-Palm Harbor VFW Post 2550, 360 Douglas Ave.
In the race for Pinellas County sheriff, incumbent Bob Gualtieri (R), recently appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to replace retiring sheriff Jim Coats, is being challenged by his main competitor, former sheriff Everett Rice (R). Other candidates include Tim Ingold (R), Scott Swope (D), Randy Heine (D) and Greg Pound (I).
While Clearwater Police enforce the majority of the city, there are unincorporated areas under the sheriff's scope.
The forum allows voters to get to meet the candidates and ask pressing questions about local law enforcement. But Pinellas County voters who cannot attend can also participate. Questions for any of the candidates may be submitted in advance by e-mailing event organizer Harvey Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. The best questions e-mailed will be used in the forum's question-and-answer session.
The forum is the first time all Pinellas County sheriff candidates have gathered at the same time.
“Given the size and scope of the sheriff’s office,” said Smith. “It’s important to have voters weigh in on key issues that impact the community when tight budgets are challenged by crime, high drug use and management issues within the sheriff’s office.”
The forum will last two hours beginning at 7 p.m.