The 2012 Race For Pasco Sheriff Is On
A retired longtime Pasco deputy and political newcomer has already entered the race for sheriff and a one-time candidate is considering another run.
The general election of 2012 is still 20 months away, but the race for Pasco County Sheriff is already starting to heat up.
One contender, retired Pasco deputy Roger Fortney, filed in January to run as a Republican, and Kim Bogart, a Democrat who gave Sheriff Bob White a run for his money in the 2008 general election with nearly 48 percent of the vote, is considering a second go at it. White has not announced yet if he will run for re-election.
Fortney, 58, served under three sheriffs during his 25-year law enforcement career in Pasco and is dual certified in law enforcement and corrections/detention. He began his career as a patrol deputy and held positions as a field training officer and property crimes detective. He retired as a corporal. Fortney says his background and experience in interacting with residents gives him the leading edge in the race to to be Pasco’s top cop.
He already has a presence – and supporters – on his campaign Facebook page, and his website should soon be completed.
“I want to be sheriff because I am passionate about serving and protecting the citizens of Pasco County,” Fortney said in an e-mailed interview. “I have raised my two children here in Pasco and now have three grandchildren here. I want this to be a better, safer place for them, and anyone else who lives here.”
Fortney, who lives in Trinity with his wife, Rita, said the county faces many law enforcement challenges and several issues have propelled him into the race.
“I consider the biggest challenge to Pasco County law enforcement to be making better use of the agency's resources, and working toward an improved relationship with the county commissioners,” he wrote in an email, alluding to the sheriff’s recent battle with commissioners over his budget. “I will focus on the offenders, converting from reactive to proactive law enforcement and concentrating on in-progress crimes. My objective is to improve the quality of life for residents of Pasco County by taking aggressive steps to reduce traffic violators and eliminate gangs, drugs and prostitution in this county.”
While Bogart hasn’t officially filed as a candidate and won’t confirm he’s going to run, the 58-year-old says he’s seriously considering it.
He has also worked for the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, rising to the ranks of captain and major during his 16-year tenure. When White cleaned house after defeating Lee Cannon in 2000, Bogart, too, was swept out the door. Since then, Bogart, who lives with his veterinarian wife Patricia Weston-Bogart in New Port Richey, has been the executive director for the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission, a position from which he took a leave of absence while campaigning for sheriff. He said then his experience in consulting and accreditation made him the best choice for sheriff.
The answer to why he’s considering a second run is simple: “Nothing has changed since the last election,” he said recently.
Bogart also points to the incumbent’s relationship with county commissioners as a prime example of what needs to be changed.
For several years, when the sheriff has made his budgetary requests to the county commission, it has provoked a fiscal wrestling match between the sheriff and commissioners. The sheriff has asked for more money than what commissioners say they can afford.
This year, White appealed his portion of the county’s budget to the governor, saying he needed $4 million more to hire 28 deputies and cover a shortfall for pension and insurance costs for current staff. He said the county needed to make public safety a priority and trim even more from other departments. In an eleventh hour negotiation on Feb. 12, the weekend before a hearing in Tallahassee, the commission decided to fund about $944,000 in pension and insurance costs for existing employees. White accepted and pulled his appeal.
While Bogart said more funds could be used at the agency, White’s contentious way of going about getting them is not appropriate.
“They need to agree on a plan and it has to be a plan that fits into the economy,” he said, adding that years of conflict is not doing Pasco residents any good. “I believe that the ongoing conflict that exists between the sheriff and the county commission, needs to come to a resolution.”
Bogart said White also doesn’t use his resources properly and could put deputies to better use reallocating them.
White declined to comment, said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll. White has not filed for re-election, and he hasn’t said whether he will run to keep the seat he has held for three four-year terms, Doll said.