Reacting to comments made by his successor, Sheriff Jim Coats, Rice said he believes in “giving voters a choice,” and thinks he will be the best candidate for the next term.
Coats recently said if he wins re-election in 2012, he could serve two years, resign, then ask the governor to appoint his chief deputy, Robert Gualtieri, to finish the final two years of the term.
“I was surprised Jim would say that,” Rice said. “The sheriff’s office belongs to the people, doesn’t belong to the sheriff to anoint other people to sheriff.”
Coats could not immediately be reached to comment. Rice said he had been trying to meet with Coats for weeks, but Coats told him he was busy in Tallahassee.
Rice said the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department has undergone changes since he left six years ago and he knows the department faces serious revenue issues.
“I haven’t laid out a platform, so I’m not ready to discuss the key issues,” Rice said. “The bottom line is that I’ve been there and done it and I’m a proven entity.”
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