Unless a surprise candidate enters the race before Friday noon, it looks to be that the sheriff’s race will be decided at the ballot box in the November general election.
The race will pit Republican incumbent Sheriff A.J. ‘Tony’ Smith, 60, of Apalachicola, against Democratic challenger Carlton Louis Whaley, 51, of Carrabelle.
Smith is seeking a second term as sheriff. Whaley, a former employee of the sheriff’s office, is currently a school board member.
Smith is the clear leader in campaign contributions, having amassed coffers of more than $106,000 compared to Whaley’s less than $5,000 total.
As of Tuesday during qualifying week, which ends this Friday at noon, Smith had already qualified to run. In addition Republican candidate for superintendent, Steve Lanier, and Democratic incumbent superintendent Traci Yoder had each qualified.
Republican incumbent tax collector Rick Watson had qualified, as had Democratic incumbent property appraiser Rhonda Skipper, and incumbent supervisor of elections Heather Riley, who is running without party affiliation. Erin Griffith, who is running without party affiliation, had qualified for clerk of courts.
In the county commission races, Republic incumbent in District #1 Ricky Jones, and Democratic incumbent in District #3 Noah Lockley had each qualified. In addition, Melonie Inzetta, in District #1, had qualified in the non-partisan school board race.
Voters have until July 20 to register to vote in the August 18 primary.
I, Carlton Whaley, will be on the ballot this fall seeking your vote for the office of sheriff of Franklin County.
I have served the Franklin County community for close to 30 years. My 26 years of service with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office ended abruptly by retirement in 2018 when I was given an ultimatum by the current administration to retire or be fired. This ultimatum was in response to my affirmative response, when asked by a fellow employee, if I would be running for sheriff.
Through the years, I excelled as a communication’s officer, deputy sheriff, corrections deputy and training coordinator. My diverse experience included responsibilities in SWAT, marine unit, alcohol breath testing, school resource officer, communications director, training director and jail administrator.
I continue to serve on several community organizations, as Carrabelle’s volunteer fire chief, as Franklin County school board District 5 representative and as the Franklin County regional hunter safety instructor. My service with the fire department began 28 years ago as a volunteer firefighter in 1992, and I became chief in 2006. I am currently serving in my seventh year as an elected school board member. I have taught and helped hundreds of Franklin County citizens acquire their hunter safety certification.
My vision for the future of the sheriff’s office includes a commitment to reduce the soaring crime rate. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Uniform Crime Report, there have been dramatic increases in the crime rate over the past few years. My vision will bring together federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to combat the increasing crime rate as well as the out-of-control drug problem. I am also interested in creating a community awareness committee to listen to citizen concerns from around the county. My plan will aggressively target those who are at the highest levels of the supply chain introducing illegal drugs to the community and will provide services and assistance to those who are in active addiction.
I also have plans to implement a youth involvement program in conjunction with the Franklin County schools to teach a broad range of life skills for success, as well as responsibility, leadership, community service and teamwork, and to instill ethical responsibility toward their peers and community.
I would also address the increased turnover rate of employees at the sheriff’s office. I will support an atmosphere where employees can efficiently perform their duties with job assurance despite differences in opinion. My plan will include training opportunities to build a strong team of knowledgeable and experienced personnel. This plan will include transparency, fiscal responsibility, and a budget to ensure that our taxes are managed, and wasteful spending is curbed. The current budget has exponentially increased, placing a higher burden on our decreasing tax base.
I will work diligently for you. I will respect each person’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I will support, protect, and defend the constitutions of Florida, the United States of America and All amendments. I will continue my service to our community without bias toward race, gender, religion, political views or financial status. A vote for me, Carl Whaley, is a vote for justice.
If you have questions or would like to share your ideas, please call me at 850-370-6197 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A.J. ’TONY’ SMITH
I am seeking a second term to be your sheriff, in the upcoming 2020 election. I want to tell you about what we have accomplished the last three years.
A native of Franklin County, I grew up in Two-Mile. I have held numerous high-level leadership positions in local as well as state law enforcement organizations. I have thousands of hours of advanced and specialized training in law enforcement and leadership, with decades of experience. I’m a Republican who was elected to a four year term in 2017 after the retirement of former Sheriff Mike Mock.
We have accomplished a lot during this first term and have more to do for the citizens of Franklin County. I look forward to continuing our success toward making our county one of the best and safest places to live in Florida.
Some of the highlights and organizations I’ve been involved in during my first three years are serving as president of the Florida Deputy Sheriff’s Association, and on the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council. I am a longtime member of the National Rifle Association and National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. In 2018, I worked to secure the Florida Sheriff’s Association’s most prestigious honor, The 2018 Deputy of Year, for two of our deputies.
I have launched semi-annual employee awards, as well as a “We Don’t Meth Around” drug campaign, and have introduced the Fresh Start program for the inmates, video visitations, Project Life Saver, as well as technology upgrades throughout the agency which include defibrillators in every patrol car, a new CAD system, body-worn cameras, automatic locator system for patrol vehicles and a new boat for search and rescue, funded in half by donations.
During my first term we made extensive upgrades to the 38-year-old office, remodeled the communications center, improved security around the detention center, put DARE back in our schools, dedicated a full-time deputy to traffic control, invigorated community engagement through social media to interact with and educate the public, and hired a grant writer to seek critical funding for the sheriff’s office.
I place a priority on building relationships with the community, including our youth and seniors. During my administration, the sheriff’s office has sponsored a luncheon for the junior and senior high school classes as well as the eighth graders of the Apalachicola Bay Charter School. I’ve initiated a coat and shoe drive in collaboration with school administration to serve those in need. Over the past year, the first annual Jingle at the Jail for kids at Christmas, a Pumpkin Patch for kids for Halloween and a Citizens Academy were added to the list of hosted events.
I also brought different resources to the detention center for inmates, such as agriculture and horticulture, AA, book club and literacy programs, domestic violence and sexual abuse counseling, ministry, substance abuse, yoga, anger management, women’s health and nutrition classes, driver’s license, GED and college courses, and Christmas gifts and an annual Thanksgiving meal for inmates
I made arresting those selling illegal drugs a top priority in the county, with hundreds of arrests made for possession and sell of methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs. More sophisticated investigations involving traffickers have been launched, and prosecutions by the U.S Attorney have led to longer sentences for these dealers. We will continue to focus on the meth problem and the possibility of providing the Bay City Wellness Center drug rehab center, so that people who want help can get help.
Two years ago the sheriff’s office and other emergency organizations faced one of the biggest disasters in county history - a devastating forest fire raged out of control, burning over 900 acres and claiming 36 homes in the Eastpoint neighborhoods of Ridge and Wilderness roads, as well as Buck Street. The immediate action on behalf of the sheriff was to help people affected by this catastrophe. We began a GoFundMe drive that arose from a meeting with Gov. Scott and it exploded with response. The Charity Fund for the victims was a huge success, helping to provide mobile homes for six of the families, after raising over $372,000. The relief efforts were overwhelming as goods and supplies poured in, and the role of law enforcement quickly turned into a humanitarian effort. Staff members loaded up trucks and trailers to personally take supplies to the streets for those after the fire. The response to this event remains one of the most defining moments of my administration.
After Hurricane Michael ravished the Panhandle in Oct. 2018, the sheriff’s office went to the aid of the communities, collecting donations to help those affected by the Category 5 storm. Also during my first term, the sheriff’s office staged relief efforts for Monroe County after Hurricane Ivan, Chambers County, Texas after Hurricane Harvey and the Caribbean after Hurricane Dorian.
My leadership skills has been put to the test since taking office in 2017, and these historical events have defined my experience, knowledge and ability to lead a team. Facing two catastrophic events within the same year speaks volumes of my leadership skills and desire to help anyone in our county. If you approve of the job I’ve done, I hope you will allow me to keep the job as sheriff another four years. I’m humbled to serve. Thank you. My re-election website is www.sheriffajsmith.com