Two oppose Darnell for Sheriff


Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 10:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 10:03 p.m.

Two candidates are challenging Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell in the upcoming election. The three will go head to head on Nov. 6.

John Annarumma, 38, who is running with no party affiliation, and write-in candidate Tony Sims are the challengers.

Incumbent Darnell said she has a number of priorities at the forefront of her campaign. For one, she said she wants the Sheriff’s Office to keep up with the “constant evolution of crime.”

She said identity theft and child welfare are serious issues in Alachua County, and she’s working to make sure the Sheriff’s Office is well equipped with the means to combat the proliferation of those crimes. She wants an emphasis put on intelligence-led policing and enhanced crime analysis.

Another issue important to her, she said, is succession at the Sheriff’s Office.

Darnell said there will be 20 positions vacated in the next five years, and she wants to develop a system that will ensure the continuity of a high level policing that she believes the Sheriff’s Office provides.

Also important to her, she said, is the issue of disparity between her employees and county employees in what she calls similar positions.

Darnell has been vocal in the past about the salary of Alachua County Communications Coordinator Mark Sexton, and she also bumped heads with County Commissioner Mike Byerly at a recent County Commission meeting over the size of ASO’s general fund budget increase for this fiscal year. Darnell argued that the increase is not as large as Byerly has suggested.

As for her opponents, Darnell said she knows she has a history with them. “I know both of my opponents, I fired one and I hired the other,” she said. “I know a lot about them. (John) Annarumma left without notice, and Tony Sims was fired over issues of performance and integrity.”

Annarumma is a former ASO employee. He said he’s running for sheriff because he wants to bring to light some issues that ASO struggles with. He said Darnell’s priority is not law enforcement.

Also, he said there’s a lack of direction and common sense that goes into the leadership process. “There’s too many supervisors,” he said, “and the atmosphere is not conducive to good policing.”

This, he said, is because of what he calls bureaucracy in the department.

Annarumma said the Sheriff’s Office is top-heavy and logistics-heavy. He said there are too many upper-level positions, and if elected he would focus on a top down reorganization and model ASO command positions after an army battalion.

He said it’s time to make some tough choices, and that in hard times even corporations downsize.

Another thing he said Darnell doesn’t do well is community policing. To fix that, Annarumma said he would station a deputy in each city in the county who would only focus on community outreach and integration.

Annarumma said such a move would allow for more interaction and trust between the department and the cities they protect.

Another issue Annarumma has with Darnell is what he says is a lack of an independent grievance process. Annarumma wants to create a place where deputies want to work, he said.

He claimed ASO is going to become the department with the most turnover in Alachua County if the sheriff doesn’t implement a system where they can file grievances independently.

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