Each week, we're asking each of the Pinellas County sheriff candidates a question that's important to you, the voter, so you can be informed come ballot time.
This week, we asked:
- What role should the Sheriff's Office have in shaping legislation related to prescription medication abuse and "legal highs" such as herbal incenses (i.e., K2, Spice and bath salts)?
The sheriff has a duty to inform the legislature of the facts known to him or her regarding prescription abuse and the dangers of such substances as herbal incenses, spices, bath salts, etc. As the elected chief law enforcement officer in the county the sheriff is in the unique position of taking the lead in protecting the citizens. If the sheriff believes public safety legislation is needed to protect the citizens then it is the sheriff’s responsibility to inform members of the legislature, and to work with the legislature to pass meaningful laws.
This is an area that I have much experience in. As the president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association, and as chairman of the sheriff’s association legislative committee, I led the way to passage of the Stop Turning out Prisoners law (STOP). When Florida’s crime rate was out of control because prisoners were serving only a small portion of their sentences I knew it was because convicts were not being held accountable. I took the issue to Tallahassee. The STOP law now requires that convicts serve 85 percent of their sentence. Today, serious criminals are kept locked up and the crime rate has been going down ever since the STOP bill passed. I spent several years as your sheriff lobbying the legislature on public safety issues. The STOP law is only one example of the way sheriffs can influence positive public safety legislation. Under my leadership we also improved Florida’s drug laws. I am the only candidate for sheriff that has a proven record in this regard.
So, to answer your question, the sheriff has a vital role in shaping public safety legislation and it is a role in which I have a very positive record. Florida is a safer place because of my leadership role in the state sheriff’s association. As a former member of the legislature and leader of the state sheriffs I know how to get things done to make Pinellas County safer.
We're asking one more question before the on July 17 at the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater Octagon Center, 2470 Nursery Road (6:30 p.m.).
Let us know what issue you'd like to hear about from the sheriff's candidates! You can either participate in the poll below to help us finalize our last question or suggest one of your own. We'll use your input to ask about issues you care about most.
The sheriff's candidate debate is free to attend, or you can watch Patch's live streaming coverage. It is sponsored by Patch, the and Bay News 9.
Rice on previous Patch Podiums: