Broward Sheriff Candidates Clash During Zoom Forum
Nine candidates vying to be elected the next Broward County Sheriff gathered on Zoom Monday night to face off on some of the issues affecting voters including: police brutality, reallocating law enforcement funding, and the county's 9-1-1 communications system.
It was also a tense evening full of personal attacks as former Sheriff Scott Israel sparred with his rival, incumbent Sheriff Gregory Tony.
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The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization the Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce hosted the online forum, along with other partners, which was open to the public to watch ahead of the election — ahead of the Aug. 8 start of early voting in Broward. More than 190 people tuned in to watch the conversation. Qualified write-in candidate Fuad Kiuhan was not present.
Sheriff Tony is working to keep the job he was appointed to when Gov. Ron DeSantis first took office in January 2019 and removed Israel. DeSantis removed Israel from office for incompetence and neglect of duty during the 2018 Parkland school shooting.
Israel maintained during the forum that he was wrongfully removed from office by a Republican governor.
"Not only was my vote stolen, and my livelihood taken from me, but your vote was stolen," Israel said during the forum. "I'm running for reelection and we need to reclaim our vote."
When making his case, Israel also brought up Tony's recent controversies that have come to light, including not being truthful on past job applications and a past murder from when he was 14 years old.
Tony meanwhile, defended his place in the office during the night, citing accomplishments like: changes to the agency's active shooter training, funding the real-time crime center and his no-tolerance stance towards excessive use-of-force cases.
In addition to the 2018 Parkland shooting, Tony also mentioned the 2017 airport shooting in the county when distinguishing himself from his predecessor, Israel.
"We had two horrific active shooter events that devastated the community and I was tasked, most certainly, with coming in and mitigating those harms to the community and fixing the deficiencies," he said.
Another Democrat in the race, Al Pollock, who won the endorsement of the Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association, tried to distinguish himself from his competitors and list his plans.
"My plan is to mentor children and catch them before they get to the civil citation part," Pollock said. "I also have a plan to start an elderly abuse unit. I also have a plan to start an animal abuse unit."
Pollock was one of the majority of candidates in the race that gave Tony a failing letter grade for his performance in office so far.
Pollock said it's because of Tony's response to the coronavirus pandemic that he deserves an 'F' letter-grade.
"We have to protect all employees of the Broward Sheriff's Office, so that they can protect the public and BSO has failed at that. Even for the inmates," Pollock said.
At a news conference late last week, Tony disclosed there were 29 inmates who have tested positive for the virus in BSO's detention facilites.
Other candidates who participated in the forum, listed in order of appearance on the Broward Supervisor of Election's website, included:
- H. Wayne Clark
- Willie Jones
- Casimiro Navarro
- Andrew Smalling
- Santiago Vazquez Jr.
- Charles "Chuck" Whatley