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Complete Coverage: Candidates Discuss Education, Crime, Taxes

Six races including Pinellas County Sheriff, US House Dist. 13, Pinellas County School Board took part in a forum in Gulfport.

The Gulfport Democratic Club and St. Petersburg Club hosted a Meet the Candidates Forum at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom Thursday night. Almost all of the 19 candidates invited attended the event, they included:

  • Bob Gualtieri, GOP candidate for Sheriff;
  • Scott Swope, Democratic candidate for Sheriff;
  • Jessica Ehrlich, U.S. District House 13 candidate (Democrat);
  • Buck Walz, Republican candidate for District 7, at large, County Commission;
  • Ken Welch, Democratic incumbent, District 7, at large, County Commission.

Pinellas County Sheriff Candidates Bob Gualtieri and Scott Swope debated about the elimination of the fugitive section of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Gualtieri maintains that the decision saved money.

"We are arresting people on fugitive warrants and we’re doing it effectively and cost efficiently," Gualtieri said.

Swope said if elected he would reinstate the fugitive section and fund it with money that is already available.

"We can reallocate the services from one place to another," Swope said.

Patch will have more from both candidates in a future article.

Pinellas County Commissioner Candidates Neil Brickfield Janet Long, Nancy Bostock, Charlie Justice, Buck Walz and Ken Welch debated tax increases and the recent vote to remove fluoride from drinking water. More from those topics in a future article.

Other races included the Supervisor of Elections, Pinellas County School Board and FL State House Dist. 69. Patch will have results from the forum in our continuous coverage.

Pinellas County residents heard several candidates throughout the evening, including the Democratic Candidate for US House Dist. 13, Jessica Ehrlich. Ehrlich addressed guests during the two minute introduction but removed herself from the forum because Rep. C.W. Bill Young was not present. Billy Young, the representative's son, was at the event instead. Organizers allowed all candidates to speak and allowed representatives to participate.

Billy Young stated his father could not make it due to scheduled events in Washington D.C., including a briefing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Young also provided printed flyers of the representatives's schedule to audience members.

Watch our related videos to learn more.

Related Articles:

VIDEO: Ehrlich Walks Out, Rep. Young No Show

VIDEO: 'I Feel Like Clint Eastwood,' Young Says

VIDEO: 'He's Lost Touch,' Ehrlich Says of Rep. Young

Harvey A. Smith September 21, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Scott, please identify which programs and expenses you would reallocate and how much the PCSO will save...or exceed the budget! It's really easy to "toss out" a general statement about reallocating expenses without being specific as to how they will affect the FY2013 budget. With a degree in Finance, this should be a simple task! In fact, it might be interesting for you to show what your budget would be next year as compared to the sheriff's budget.
Ann McDowell September 22, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Harvey, Scott has identified which programs and expenses he would reallocate and stated the amount that it will take to restore the fugitive warrants unit so that we can reduce the 56,000 unserved warrants which includes thousands of felony warrants for violent criminals. If Bob Gualtieri had not dismantled this unit, perhaps Gregory Johns would have been behind bars back in 2011 instead of out raping and impregnating that little 11-year old girl from Safety Harbor last June. The public is outraged that Gualtieri allowed this number of outstanding warrants to grow while he wasted tax payers’ money on surveillance of a legitimate business – Simply Hydroponics – in Largo which trampled on our civil liberties and resulted in the cases being thrown out of court. He gave his deputies a pass until defense lawyers and the Tampa Bay Times went public with the facts. Then he fired three of the deputies as scapegoats. We should be firing from the top down not the bottom up.
Dawn Bohler September 22, 2012 at 02:02 PM
He has discussed the following... Downsizing the narcotics division that has a 5 million dollar budget Cutting out the inhouse attorneys and staff Cutting the inmate medical expense budget Doing away with the DUI check points and going back to the DUI Task Force...Only to name a few Just look at the DUI check point from June 29-30 which was only a matter of hours. You can find this on the Pinellas County Sheriff site, seach warrants. There were a total of 31 arrests, at $1600 per arrests, costing $49,600. Now, of these arrests there were only 14 related to DUI. So, look at the wasted money due to the violation of our Fourth Amendment. Because there was no probable cause to stop, they can't even use the "Plain View Doctrine", leaving all collected evidence inadmissable in court. That cost $27,000 in arrests for crimes that will "get off". People seriously need to get off this budget kick and start looking at the public safety issues. Pinellas County is slowly turning into a Stand Your Own Ground county due to the lack of concern by both Gualtieri as well as the deputies. Attitude starts at the top and works its way down. I can say this for a fact due to the crimes that have been committed to my family and myself, and the lack of action by the deputies. Even the lack of concern for those safety issues. And yes, I can give examples

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