Creative Loafing Tampa Bay’s 2020 recommendations for Hillsborough and Pinellas Sheriff

Santana's been unafraid to use the term “systemic racism” and supports a police-social work program.

click to enlarge Creative Loafing Tampa Bay’s 2020 recommendations for Hillsborough and Pinellas Sheriff
Photo via Eliseo Santana/Facebook

Sheriff (Pinellas): Eliseo Santana

Remember when incumbent Sheriff Bob Gualtieri got all bent out of shape at the Tampa Bay Rays’ Opening Day tweet, “Today is Opening Day, which means it’s a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor.” Gualtieri apparently complained that the post was inaccurate (and, in fairness, he opposes no-knock warrants like the one that reportedly resulted in Taylor’s death), but he’s pretty much used weak arguments to attack Santana in this race for Sheriff. Gualtieri cites Santana’s lack of experience and past bankruptcies while Santana points at his opponent’s inability to promote POC leaders within the department and his record with rape investigations. In a recent Tiger Bay forum, Santana, who’s been unafraid to use the term “systemic racism” and supports a police-social work program to help in calls regarding mental illness, homelessness and substance abuse, said: “I am not going to impose the power and the authority of law enforcement on the people… I am going to bring the people into the equation to be able to truly address the issues that make us unsafe.” Sign us up.

Sheriff (Pinellas): Choose your own adventure

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister has expressed a willingness to work with community leaders and everyday residents to improve relations between the Sheriff’s Office and the community. He doesn’t believe the Sheriff’s Office should be partisan, or so he told Florida Politics. His three-year record as Sheriff, which has featured both reforms—e.g. collaborating with NAMI Hillsborough to mandate crisis intervention training for deputies—and stains—e.g. complicity in mass deportation under the Trump administration, through collaboration with ICE—render him a controversial figure for some, and for others, a leader with bipartisan appeal. Retired police officer Ron McMullen, the NPA candidate running to unseat Chronister, offers little in his campaign beyond a removal of Chronister from the seat. The Democrat running for Sheriff, Gary Pruit, has largely failed to get party support, and has been noticeably absent from broader conversations around policing in recent month—missing out on an opportunity to pitch his candidacy to disgruntled community members.

In lieu of a formal endorsement, we suggest using your personal discretion in deciding who gets your vote for Sheriff (if anyone).

See all of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay’s 2020 recommendations here.

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About The Authors

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...

McKenna Schueler

McKenna Schueler is a freelance journalist based in Tampa, Florida. She regularly writes about labor, politics, policing, and behavioral health. You can find her on Twitter at @SheCarriesOn and send news tips to [email protected].

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