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Larger Venue Needed for Next Sheriff Debate, Organizers Say

The next Pinellas County Sheriff candidate debate, set for July 17, will feature all candidates who meet the June 8 qualifying deadline.

Organizers are searching for a venue large enough to hold around 500 people for an upcoming Pinellas County Sheriff's candidate forum.

That's double the number of attendants at the first -sponsored forum in April.

The upcoming forum, scheduled for July 17, will feature all candidates meeting the June 8 qualifying deadline. 

The first NASLEMM-sponsored forum drew an audience that included ex-sheriff Jim Coats, who resigned from his seat in November to care for his ailing wife, and many city and county officials.

The six approved candidates — Interim Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Randy Heine, Tim Ingold, Greg Pound, former sheriff Everett Rice and Scott Swope — fielded questions on handling budget and integrity issues, some of which were fueled by recent and controversial allegations that the Sheriff's Office has mishandled investigations and poorly allocated resources during times of tightening budgets. By the end of that emotionally-charged, non-partisan forum, Tim Ingold announced plans to drop out of the race. (.) 

Sheriff's candidates in a forum in Palm Harbor last week answered an array of questions, including what one major policy change they would make to the Sheriff's Office. (See full story here.)

Upcoming candidate forums:

June 18: State, county and sheriff candidates appear at a Council of North County Neighborhoods (CNCN)-sponsored candidate forum at 7 p.m.

July 17: All qualifying sheriff's candidates appear at a -sponsored forum. Time and venue to be announced. Senior anchor Al Ruechel of Bay News 9 will moderate. For more information, or to suggest a venue, contact organizer Harvey Smith at hsmithconsulsv@aol.com.

All approved candidates for Pinellas County Sheriff are listed below in alphabetical order. Other candidates could still join the race. The deadline for candidates to qualify for the race is June 8 at noon. 

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