Chief Deputy Bob Gualtieri formally announces candidacy for Pinellas Sheriff

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Robert ?ob?Gualtieri, Chief Deputy and General Counsel for the Pinellas County Sheriff? Office, today officially announced his candidacy to replace the retiring Sheriff Jim Coats.

?he Pinellas County Sheriff? Office is one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the Southeastern United States. I take pride in my over 20 years of service to the agency and especially in the accomplishments the agency has had while I have been its General Counsel and Chief Deputy. It is a great honor to have the endorsement and encouragement of Sheriff Coats and many others in the community. I enthusiastically put my credentials and record of accomplishments before the voters of Pinellas County for their consideration:

?xperience in every branch of the Department ?I began my career as a detention deputy in 1982, which gives me unique bottom-up perspective on the area that is approximately half of the agency? budget and operations. I then worked as a patrol deputy assigned to neighborhoods throughout the county, and later, as my career progressed with the agency, as detective in General Investigations and Narcotics. As General Counsel to the agency, I provide legal representation for every aspect of the Sheriff? Office. Finally, as Chief Deputy I am responsible for overall management of the day-to-day operations of the agency.

?iscal management and stewardship of taxpayer funds ?The Sheriff? office budget represents over 50% of the total Pinellas County General Fund budget. As the property tax rolls have declined and county government has been forced to reduce its budgets, I have been called upon to implement major reductions in spending and personnel, while maintaining the level of service residents expect. The results have been significant.

  • Since 2008, we have eliminated 616 positions agency-wide, or approximately 18% of our staffing
  • The General Fund budget has been reduced by $102 million (approximately 40%) since 2008
  • Still, the crime rate in the area we protect has declined the last two years
  • We have accomplished this even though our average deputy-to-citizen ratio of 1.6 to 1,000 population is well below the statewide average of 2.3 officers per 1,000 population

?nnovative leadership to solve real problems ?As our economy has changed, the needs of our population have grown while the resources available from government have been reduced. This requires more innovative thinking to solve the problems we face. Among those projects we have implemented include:

  • Pinellas Safe Harbor is a cost-saving alternative to jail incarceration for homeless persons arrested on minor ordinance violations. This has been done through a coalition of 14 Pinellas County cities and the Pinellas County Homeless Leadership Network.
  • The Lealman PAL complex provides much needed programs and services to residents of the unincorporated Lealman community. The result is a reduction in juvenile crime by preventing young people from becoming a part of the criminal justice system.
  • A 17-member, multiagency, countywide Drug Diversion Task Force to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic

?he Pinellas County Sheriff? Office is a much different agency than the one I joined in 1982. Not only are we much larger, but we are also more streamlined to accomplish more with less. I am the only candidate with working knowledge of the agency as it exists today, as it has changed significantly during the last four years and believe I am the best candidate to lead the agency in the years ahead.?

Gualtieri, a resident of East Lake. He and his wife, attorney Lauralee G. Westine, have three daughters. Gualtieri, 49, is a graduate of Eckerd College, and received his Juris Doctorate degree cum laude from Stetson University College of Law. He is a Board Member of the Sheriff? Police Athletic League, a charter member of the Rotary Club of Eastlake Sunrise, and a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Florida Sheriff? Association.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.