Democratic sheriff candidates

In mid-July, the Palatka Daily News asked candidates in August elections to tell our readers more about themselves. Candidates received extensive questionnaires and were given more than two weeks to complete the questionnaires. Below are the answers from Democratic candidates for Putnam County sheriff Gator DeLoach, Carl Perry and Ricky Wright. Early voting starts Aug. 17. The primary is Aug. 30.

 

GATOR DELOACH

Age: 37

Years living in area: 37

Family: wife: Jennifer

sons: Mason, Parker and Knox

Education: Graduate of Palatka High school and St Johns River State College Criminal Justice Academy

Current occupation: Captain of Administrative Services, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office

Previous employment: Workforce Development Coordinator at St Johns River State College, Support Staff at Johnson-Overturf Funeral Homes, and Land Management Specialist with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Military history: N/A

Volunteer history: Rotary Club of Palatka, Feed the Need of Putnam County, former Babe Ruth League assistant coach

Public elected offices: N/A

Any unsuccessful political campaigns: N/A

Other political and government experience: N/A

Endorsements received: Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy, Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith, Union County Sheriff Brad Whitehead, Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson, Putnam County Fire Rescue Professionals

1. Why should people vote for you? As a husband, father of three, and law enforcement officer, I understand how important it is to keep our community safe. We must be aggressive to reduce crime, with a goal to improve the overall quality of life in Putnam County. I will work every day to make Putnam County an even better place to live, raise a family and grow a business.

After joining the Sheriff’s Office 15 1/2 years ago I quickly rose through the many ranks and units of the Sheriff’s Office. I have worked in a variety of positions including the School Resource Unit, Missing Persons, Drug Unit, Property Crimes, Major Crimes, and finally my current position as the Captain over Administrative Services. I have a wide-range of experience and a true understanding of the Sheriff’s Office.

I will take the job of being Sheriff very seriously, always remembering who my bosses are – the citizens of Putnam County. No one will work harder than me to keep Putnam safe.

2. What are the three most important issues you would address if elected and how would you address them? Attrition, Recidivism, and Community Relations

One of the greatest problems facing the Sheriff’s Office is the loss of experienced employees to surrounding counties. It’s no secret Putnam County is not a wealthy county, like some of our oceanfront neighbors. This means we do not have the tax base to pay our employees as much in comparison to those communities. What we can do is find innovative ways to become more cost effective and save some money to help close the gap. We all know that salaries, particularly large salaries can be attractive, but salaries are not the only thing that makes a work environment attractive. One of the ideas I have is to work with local realtors to find affordable living arrangements in Putnam County for deputies. There are many landlords who would be willing to lower their costs to have reliable payments and the safety from responsible deputies. Another step we can continue to take is a scholarship for local members of the community to go through the law enforcement academy to become deputies in their home community. By hiring locally we increase the likelihood a deputy will continue to work for the Sheriff’s Office because he or she is able to make an impact in the lives of those they care for.

Recidivism is a difficult issue that we will need to work in collaboration with our judicial partners to help solve. A study from the National Institute of Justice indicates more than two thirds of inmates released will be re-arrested within three years of release. That means statistically speaking two thirds of the people the Sheriff’s Office arrests are repeat offenders. I believe there are ways we can look at making things better. One such option is a work release program in which person’s incarcerated for non-violent crimes would have an option of maintaining their employment during their time in jail. I would also like to seek out an option of providing an educational program for inmates seeking to better themselves during their time incarcerated.

We’ve all seen the news and are aware of the issues facing our country as a whole. I believe as Sheriff it will be important to ease the divides we see highlighted on the news of late by building stronger ties between our community and law enforcement. This can be done in a variety of ways including public engagements to educate the public on the laws, current crime trends, and steps they can take to protect themselves. Most importantly, the Sheriff’s Office as a whole has to understand that we must always present ourselves in a manner that is always respectful and responsive. The best way for us to reach these goals is through children. Children are our future and it is our responsibility to build an environment in which they do not fear law enforcement but look at them with care and trust.

3. What other issues do you see as important? The crime rate in Putnam County has dropped significantly over the past few years and we must continue to work diligently to further this trend.

Domestic violence (where there is a violation of an injunction) is one of the most common violent crimes we see. Unfortunately, domestic violence also has a high rate of recidivism. With technology that is readily available I’d like to establish a program for monitoring the perpetrators of domestic violence to reduce future violence in the homes of our citizens and to enforce “do not contact” orders.

The farmers in our community often fall victim to crime, which others may view as minor or unimportant. I feel our agricultural community is very important to our local economy and would like to create an agricultural deputy who will be able to address the specific concerns of agri-business.

4. What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public? There are several steps already in place for this. The Florida Sunshine Laws are the national standard for open records. With few exceptions, most records are readily available upon request.

The sheriff’s office also participates in a semi-annual touch a truck program where members of our Special Operations Group bring out all sorts of our specialized equipment to let the community come and ask questions about their use. One of the most commonly liked pieces of equipment, but also the least understood, is our MRAP. To the untrained eye, the MRAP looks like a massive tank or some other weapon of war. However, the MRAP is not weaponized and is really nothing more than a big shield on wheels, designed to not only to protect deputies but also allow them to safely evacuate citizens from dangerous situations.

If elected Sheriff the office will be open, accessible, and provide records at request.

5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony), been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you? If so, please give details. I’ve never been convicted of a felony or disciplined by a licensing board. However, to be transparent, there was recently what I view as an unmerited ethics complaint filed against me which I believe was intended to undermine my campaign. That complaint became public and was dismissed by the Florida Commission on Ethics on August 3, 2016.

6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details. No, thankfully I have never been in a position where I was unable to honor my financial obligations.

7. Are there any personal details about yourself voters would be interested in knowing? I’m a 4th generation Putnam Countian and a lifelong resident. I was recently blessed by the birth of my twin sons so I am now a proud father of three. I have a vested interest in the future of Putnam County. If elected Sheriff I will do my best to guide the Sheriff’s Office and our community safely into the future.

 

CARL PERRY

Age: 65

Year living in the area: Five

Family: Wife of 44 years, one son here in Florida and one son in Ohio

Education: Rio Grand College (southern Ohio) and Lorain College (northern Ohio)

Current occupation: Retired law enforcement

Previous employment: Ohio Correctional System and owner of a security agency in Ohio

Military history: U.S. Army 1968-1972 (two tours in Vietnam); National Guard (Ohio), 1977-1980 all enlisted; Ohio Military Reserve (component of National Guard), attained rank of lieutenant colonel.

Volunteer history: Crescent City Raiders football public address announcer, 2013-2014

Public elected offices: None

Any unsuccessful political campaigns: In early 1980s lost by 51 votes to incumbent for city council in Elyria, Ohio.

Other political and government experience: N/A

Endorsements received: None as I don’t want the impression that I owe anybody for their endorsement.

1. Why should people vote for you? I am honest and will treat all the citizens of this county and visitors passing through. I believe in being firm, fair and consistent. The good, ole boy system is out the window with me. If you break the law, you will pay the price of the violation.

2. What are the three most important issues you would address if elected and how would you address them? Enforcing the laws as they are written. Respect for all the people. In order to get respect, you must first give respect. Reducing the command staff as I feel it is too big and overbudgeted and hire more deputies to bring down over time.

3. What other issues do you see as important? Intensify the training in public relations and establish a citizen review board, pay raises.

4. What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public? Transparency, as long as it does not interfere with the investigations. Open door policy.

5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony), been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you? If so, please give details. No.

6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details. Yes, bankruptcy in 2000. It has been satisfied.

7. Are there any personal details about yourself voters would be interested in knowing? I am an ordained minister and associate pastor at New Life Church of God in Crescent City.

 

RICKY WRIGHT

Age: 51

Years living in area: 36 in Putnam County (15 in Clay County) 

Family: Melissa (wife) & Miayah (daughter)

Education: Graduate of Vincennes University, A.S. Degree

Current occupation: Captain (Chief of Detention Administration) Clay County Sheriff's Office

Previous employment: Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, Hastings Youth Academy & Palatka Police Department.

Military history: None

Volunteer history: (35 years of service) - Palatka Recreation Department, Communities In Schools of Putnam County, St. Johns River Athletic Association, Putnam Athletic League (South Putnam A.A, Palatka Pop Warner, West Putnam Pop Warner), Southeast Region Pop Warner (FL, GA, AL & MS)

Public elected offices: None

Any unsuccessful political campaigns: N/A

Other political and government experience: None

Endorsements received: Sheriff Rick Beseler, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Wayne Ivey, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

1. Why should people vote for you? I am passionate about people. I am passionate about this profession and have been for 32 years. I have the leadership ability that is needed to operate the Office of the Sheriff and work closely with other constitutional officers and to solve issues. Having both law enforcement and detention experience is vital to operating a sheriff’s office successfully. I care about our youth and I have invested in their lives for 35 years. You will not get business as usual with me as your sheriff. I will move this agency forward because I believe in the concept of engaging our deputies with the community we service and being proactive and not just reactive. I will protect taxpayers money and use it to make your neighborhoods safer and not for my personal agenda.

2. What are the three most important issues you would address if elected and how would you address them?

* Drug dealers and abuse

Local drug taskforce where the concentration is on the dealers. Working closely with other local and state services to offer help to those willing to accept our help.

* Increase salaries for our deputies.

Eliminated budget waste – combine job assignments – eliminate top-heavy positions.

* More Deputies in neighborhoods

Develop and use a volunteer/civilian program that would move the deputy out of the office and back into your neighborhoods

3. What other issues do you see as important?

* Recruitment and Retention

* The need to develop a volunteer program that will help save taxpayers money

* Better training in mental health and diversity

4. What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?

* Town/Community meetings to hear directly from the people we serve

* A real open door policy – access to me, the Sheriff

* Social media initiative that would allow more access to my office

5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony), been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you? If so, please give details. No

6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details. No

7. Are there any personal details about yourself voters would be interested in knowing? First and foremost my faith will keep me humble. Having humility keeps me grounded. I will be a strong sheriff, but my prayer life will not decrease, it will actual increase because I don’t think you can be successful in anything without prayer.

I have a strong commitment to the youth in our community. I believe that we must engage our youth and their families to help provide them with an opportunity to reach their highest potential.

I am committed to protecting citizens who have become victims of crime(s) and will increase that effort as your sheriff.