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:
If elected, how will your past work and life experience contribute to your role as sheriff?
Bob Gualtieri answers:
"My experience, past and current, will contribute significantly to my successful leadership of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. I began my law enforcement career 30 years ago and have worked at the Jail as a detention deputy, a city police officer for the Dunedin Police Department and throughout the Sheriff’s Office in a variety of law enforcement capacities. I served under Sheriff Jim Coats as his Chief Deputy (second in command) for several years before he retired and I was appointed Pinellas County Sheriff by the Governor last year. I am also a lawyer and have practiced civil litigation and served as the General Counsel for the Sheriff’s Office.
"Providing effective law enforcement while managing the budget through these difficult economic times is the greatest challenge we face. I have been responsible for the Sheriff’s Office budget for the past four years and we have cut the General Fund budget by $108 million and eliminated over 600 positions. At the same time, we have reduced crime by 12 percent and arrests are up by 28 percent. The economic downturn is far from over as the projected General Fund deficit between now and 2022 is another $35 million. My experience in meeting budget challenges, while driving crime down, is unmatched by any other candidate in this race.
"Technology has changed significantly over the years and I ensure that the Sheriff’s Office remains on the cutting edge by staying abreast of, and using the latest available technology. Supporting our staff’s efforts to develop internal computer programs and other technology is important so that we remain efficient and effective.
"We must keep moving forward with strong and effective leadership and we cannot return to the past way of solving problems by spending money. Hard decisions still need to be made to meet future budget challenges and the Sheriff’s Office needs long term, consistent leadership. The past is gone, we have to operate for today and tomorrow, I am the only candidate in this race with the current knowledge and experience to successfully lead the Sheriff’s Office for the future."