Democratic primary for Broward’s top cop heats up

(WSVN) - Early voters are now “Voicing Their Choice” for one of the most powerful political positions in Broward County: the county’s top cop.

The primary race for the Broward County Sheriff is heating up among the four Democratic candidates, but the incumbent, Sheriff Scott Israel, says he’s ready for another four-year term.

“My job is to keep Broward County as safe as possible, and the team I have put together, we have done an amazing job, and we are going to keep doing that,” Israel said.

There are three other Democratic candidates running against Israel in the Aug. 30 primary.

Thirty-year law enforcement veteran James Fondo retired from BSO back in 2012. He said the office has been mismanaged under Israel.

“I think that BSO is going in the wrong direction. I think the management, the mismanagement, the fiscal responsibility and the morale overall is in bad shape,” Fondo said.

Fondo said he wants to reevaluate upper management. Another candidate, Willie Jones, had similar sentiments about the direction of BSO. Jones has 39 years of law enforcement experience including 19 years at BSO.

“I’ve been preparing for this move my entire life,” Jones said. “It’s time for a change. The status quo will no longer benefit our community. Our community needs 21st century leadership.”

Edison Jules also has a law enforcement background, having worked as a police officer in Ohio. He feels certain communities in the county don’t get their fair shake.

“The sheriff’s department is at a crossroads right now to where it needs true leadership,” Jules said. “It needs someone to understand community policing, to understand what our community is facing today.”

The BSO has more than 6,000 employees and a budget close to $800 million.

Israel said he’s not worried about losing his position. He said violent crimes and burglaries are down, morale is up and the agency is going in the right direction.

“Every union that works for me endorsed me. I see people. I’m active. You know, I walk around this town, I’m in churches, I’m in Publix. Our people are very happy. Morale has never been better,” Israel said. “BSO has never functioned as efficiently as it is right now.”

The winner of this race will face Republican Santiago Vazquez Jr. and two write-in candidates.

Tomorrow, we will look at Amendment 4. Some call it a “Solar Solution” to a taxing situation. Others say, it would amount to a sunburn on the state’s budget. We’ll break down the heated debate.

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