One business day after Chad Chronister was officially sworn in as the new Hillsborough County Sheriff, he filed his paperwork to run for (re)-election in November of 2018.
Chronister was tapped by Gov. Rick Scott to replace David Gee in August. He was the only applicant for the position.
Gee announced in June that he was stepping down after more than 16 years on the job. Gee was just re-elected to a fifth time last November.
Chronister joined the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office in 1992 and worked street crimes, narcotics, before being promoted to colonel last year.
Chronister says that he’s lucky to have worked so long under Gee, but says he’s his own man and will have his own vision for taking the office. He mentioned programs for youth diversion, crime reduction and community outreach.
“I think I want people to know that the level of service remains the same, the level of commitment to service and professionalism and integrity and our community outreach programs remain the same,” he said while speaking with reporters at the Hillsborough County’s Supervisor of Elections office in downtown Tampa. He said he was proud to have played a part in the department’s opening District 5 this spring, which includes Progress Village, Bloomingdale and northern Riverview and the substations associated with those areas.
Like Gee, Chronister is a Republican, but he says that he doesn’t believe ideology has anything to do with how he runs his office.
“I’m the Sheriff for all people. I don’t pick and choose (regarding) sexual preferences, what your religious beliefs are … Republican, Democrat, that’s irrelevant, and my political views are so middle of the road,” Chronister said.
In his 17-year-career, Gee was rarely challenged by a Democrat at the ballot box.
“That means I’ve got to get to work,” Hillsborough County Democratic Party Executive Committee Chair Ione Townsend said Monday when informed that due to the timing of Gee’s retirement, the sheriff’s job will be on the ballot next year, and not in 2020 as was originally the plan (the winner of the 2018 election will have to run again in 2020).
Chronister has hired the GOP political consulting group Strategic Image Management (SIM) to run his campaign next year. That’s the firm led by consultant Anthony Pedicini. Pedicini is currently representing Lawrence McClure in the House District 58 special election.
“A lot of people ask me if I’m nervous and have a lot of anxiety, and I don’t,” Chronister says about becoming a political candidate for the first time. Instead, he says, he looks forward to the campaign in 2018 to “show the great work that the HCSO and the agency and the employees are doing out in the community.”