Sheriff Jerry Demings wins Orange County mayor race

Demings to focus on public safety, smart growth

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings came out on top in the race for county mayor, beating out opponents Pete Clarke and Rob Panepinto in Tuesday's primary election.

Demings, a Democrat, earned 61 percent of the vote and will replace current Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, a Republican who couldn't run again because of term limits.

He needed to secure 50 percent plus one vote of the total voter turnout in order to avoid a general election in November.

When Demings announced in July that he would be stepping down as sheriff to run in the mayoral race, he said his campaign would focus on public safety, smart growth and green initiatives.

[READ: Jerry Demings: 'We can win outright in August primary]

Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Darren Soto and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer were among some of the politicians who endorsed Demings for the position.

Nonprofit consultant Rob Panepinto, a Republican, earned 16 percent of the vote. Creating higher-paying jobs, expanding tourism opportunities and providing more affordable housing opportunities were some of his platform goals.

Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke, also a Republican, is known for spearheading the creation of a center to benefit survivors of sexual assault and the creation of the After School Zone program for local students to continue learning after classes dismiss for the day. He earned 16 percent of the vote.

Demings will be sworn in Dec. 4.

His wife, Val Demings, retained her seat as U.S. Rep. for District 10, serving Orange County. She defeated Wade Darius.

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