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McNeil Pushes Crime Rate, A Campbell Endorses Strickland, and Elected Leaders Support Wood

Posted on September 19, 2016

McNeil Pushes Crime Rate, A Campbell Endorses Strickland, and Elected Leaders Support Wood

The race for Leon County Sheriff is shaping up to be one of the most interesting local races on the November ballot. The race offers the voters a choice between a Republican, a Democrat, an incumbent Democrat running as an NPA and a Democrat running as an NPA.

Over the last three days, campaign tactics by three of the candidates provided a look into how they plan to make their case to the voting public.

Walt McNeil

Mr. McNeil has been very blunt about his strategy. In his advertising, Mr. McNeil pushes the fact that Leon County has been number one in crime for the last two years. He also reminds voters that the incumbent, Sheriff Mike Wood, was appointed by a Republican governor. Over 53% of Leon County registered voters are Democrats, while 28% are Republicans.

Mr. McNeil advanced the crime-rate part of his argument again this past weekend by running an advertisement on Tallahassee.com which made potential voters aware of how the Leon County crime rate impacts the local economy.

Charlie Strickland

Mr. Strickland, who is running as a Republican, unveiled a campaign video of Machelle Campbell, former Sheriff Larry Campbell’s widow, endorsing Mr. Strickland for the position her husband held for 18 years.

Mr. Strickland, who sees the rare opportunity of winning an election running as a Republican in Leon County, is seeking to build support with moderate Democrats and independents. If he holds Republicans in his column, Strickland could win depending on how the other three Democrats split the remaining votes.

Sheriff Mike Wood

Mr. Wood announced the support of a number of elected leaders in a press conference on Monday. The elected leaders included City Commissioners Nancy Miller and Gil Ziffer and County Commissioners Jane Sauls, Mary Ann Lindley, and Bryan Desloge.

City Commissioner Gil Ziffer spoke at the press conference and said “We all agree that the job of safeguarding our community shouldn’t come down to the political party we most prefer but rather the person best equipped to do the job.”

TR talked to a a number of local politicos, who wished to remain anonymous, about this race, and specifically the Mike Wood endorsements. Here are their impressions.

A number of people felt this race could end up driving a wedge between blacks and whites in the local Democratic party. It was striking that not one black elected official from the city or county commissions came out to endorse Mike Wood.

“Wood has written off the black vote and the press conference was an attempt to appeal to white Democrats and Republicans,” said one consultant. “It was a bold move by candidate who understands the numbers.”

The experts found it shocking that elected Democrat leaders would publicly come out against McNeil. One consultant said, “they must really not like Walt McNeil.”

Another person thought it was hypocritical for these leaders to now be calling for non-partisanship in the Sheriff’s races when some of the elected leaders stoked partisan division to get elected.

A political expert said “this race is uncomfortable for a number of people in the community. Usually the Democrat establishment gets behind one candidate and others are discouraged against running to avoid public disagreements. Maddox leaving the Superintendent race made that race a lot easier, but this Sheriff’s race will create wounds that the local Democratic political establishment is not used to dealing with.”

And finally, one veteran political operative told TR ” Miller and Ziffer just guaranteed viable African-American opponents in their races in two years.”

Candidate Tommy Mills, who came close to defeating Larry Campbell four years ago, will be featured in future reports about the race.

8 Responses to McNeil Pushes Crime Rate, A Campbell Endorses Strickland, and Elected Leaders Support Wood

  1. crazy uncle Reply

    September 19, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Tallahasee reports bases all its articles on documents, except ones like these which rely on a bunch of anonymous sources. Why are these people afraid to be identified. at least we didn’t have to wait three days between articles this time. Yawn.

    • Alex Reply

      September 20, 2016 at 8:47 am

      @crazy uncle, you must not know the political system very well in this town. Why do you think the TD won’t write anything against the insiders?…can you say, “vengeance”. If you dare go on the record against the good ole boy network here, watch your back…and against a possible sheriff (who holds large amounts of power) forget it. If I was a consultant who wants to keep my job here, I wouldn’t go on the record either.
      Since TR has proven credible in their articles so far, I’m willing to trust these “sources” even without their names, unlike the TD who is wrong often.

  2. Mike Reply

    September 20, 2016 at 8:04 am

    After living in Tallahassee for ten years, I will never vote for a candidate for any office that is “supported” by Tallahassee City Commissioners and/or our “mayor”. If they’re supporting a candidate, that’s a definite red flag.

    Most all of COT government officials desperately need replacing, let alone allowing them to add to their corrupt mess with more elected officials they support.

    • Angela Mason Reply

      September 21, 2016 at 11:35 am

      I agree with you Mike! However, I’ve had three sons work with McNeil and he’s an honest man! If our city officials won’t do the job and keep the city safe then the Sheriff has to. The city fall within the county and crime has no jurisdiction. Wood is a part of the old crew and needs to go.

  3. Vic Aderhold Reply

    September 20, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Isn’t the crime rate, to which Walt McNeil is referring, pertain mostly to the City of Tallahassee?

  4. Concerned Citizen Reply

    September 20, 2016 at 9:53 am

    There is only one candidate in this race that has a stated vision for dealing with our crime problem and the relationship between the community and police. It’s not about political affiliation, it’s about solving the issues. Endorsements look good but you have to be able to have a plan and a vision. Again, only one candidate has stated that.

  5. David Dodd Reply

    September 29, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Mike Wood knows the Sheriff Department inside and out. He has devoted 30 years to the job. He has held every leadership position within the department. He has the respect of his officers. He is a strong leader and has proven to be a great sheriff over the last 18 months. He is the right man for the job and he has earned your support. He is also a heck of a beekeeper

  6. John F. Reply

    October 9, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I wouldn’t vote for a Democrat for dog catcher.

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