#23 on the list of Tampa Bay’s most powerful politicians is Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
“The initial name recognition polls were dismal, but the more Pinellas County voters learned about Bob Gualtieri, they liked what they saw and heard. He was direct; results oriented; utterly no nonsense; the antithesis of a good ole boy. He spoke the truth, whether or not you liked what he said. Bob won the 2012 Republican primary election by 14 points over a former sheriff with enormous name recognition and fundraising abilities. He then won the general election by close to 20 points. This victory transformed him from the “appointed” Sheriff to the “elected” Sheriff and with that came external legitimacy and power. While being a “powerful” politician does not render one a “leader”, my husband is both. Bob is powerful and earned a place on this list because he is a leader who refuses to fail. He took a vision, and over the objections and roadblocks of his detractors, created Safe Harbor, a place where Pinellas’ homeless population receive centralized services while saving tax payers millions of dollars each year. With an uncomfortable smile, Bob will humbly accept this honor and go about his day, but I am proud of Bob’s leadership in our community and thank you for recognizing him as one of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians.” — Lauralee Westine
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel which assembled it, please read here.