ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – With 54% of the votes, Democratic incumbent John Mina has been declared the winner of the Orange County sheriff primary.
At the time the race was called, three precincts were still not reporting.
WATCH LIVE | Orange County Sheriff John Mina discusses primary race results: bit.ly/3aAK7tGPosted by News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando on Tuesday, 18 August 2020
“We’re going to continue to be transparent. We’re going to continue to improve. We’re going to continue to reduce crime. We’re going to continue to listen to the community because we know this community wants certain changes,” Mina said in his virtual acceptance speech Tuesday.
LIVE RACE RESULTS:
John Mina *(D)
Andrew Darling (D)
Jose "Joe" Lopez (D)
Darryl B. Sheppard (D)
Eric L. McIntyre (D)
(247 / 247)
Meet the candidates
Made up of more than 2,500 employees, including 1,600 sworn officers, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is the largest law enforcement agency in Central Florida. The agency is responsible for the safety of more than 1.2 million residents and more than 72 million tourists that visit Orange County each year, according to its Facebook page.
It’s important that voters participate in the primary because, according to Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles, the results of the August election, for some races, determine what voters can expect to see in the general election come November.
“If a person does move on to the general, it is very, very likely they are going to win big in the general election,” Cowles said.
[2020 VOTER GUIDE: Everything you need to know ahead of Florida’s primary election]
Here’s who you can expect to see on the ballot in the primary:
Mina became the 29th elected sheriff of Orange County in November 2018, when he won a special election to replace former Sheriff Jerry Demings after Demings was elected Orange County Mayor. In that race, he ran without any party affiliation.
The incumbent, now a registered Democrat, is a lifelong public servant and no stranger to the Central Florida community. Before his role as sheriff, Mina spent 28 years with the Orlando Police Department. In 2014, he was appointed chief of police. In that role, he helped the city navigate its way through some of its darkest times, including the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub and the dayslong manhunt for accused cop killer Markeith Loyd. Before beginning his career in law enforcement, Mina served his country as a military police officer with the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.
Mina’s priorities as sheriff, according to his campaign page, are making Orange County a better and safer place, building greater connections and trust throughout the community and ensuring deputies have the best training, equipment and technology available. In 2019 and under Mina’s leadership, Orange County saw a drop in its overall crime rate.
While some might think his experience as Orange County sheriff already under his belt will help his campaign, some might argue that it hurts it, as a recent survey revealed morale is low at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office under Mina’s leadership. In early July, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 posted the survey results, which show 73% of employees in the union say morale is low or very low. According to the survey, 67.3% believe Mina has not delivered on his campaign promises or has gone against them. The survey also showed 98.2% believe he has not fulfilled or partially fulfilled his own campaign promises. The union said 674 investigators filled out the survey.
You can read read more about Mina’s career as Orange County sheriff and the issues that matter most to him here.
A self-proclaimed “criminal justice reform Democrat,” Andrew Darling is looking to unseat Mina as Orange County sheriff. Born in Titusville and raised in Orange County, the Oak Ridge High School graduate is no stranger to the area either. Darling, who also served in the Army before going on to earn two degrees from Strayer University and a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, was often referred to as the “other Andrew” while working for the Andrew Gillum for Governor campaign in 2018. After the Gillum campaign, Darling began working as an assistant public defender in Orange County.
Darling’s campaign for Orange County sheriff focused on equal justice, improved safety, a connected community and better training.
Jose “Joe” Lopez
For a second time in the last two years, Joe Lopez is facing off against Mina for the role as Orange County’s top cop. Like Mina, Lopez also ran as an independent in the 2018 election. Lopez, who was born in the Bronx, New York, to two Cuban immigrants, has also spent his life as a public servant, first serving in the U.S. Marine Corps then later spending three decades with the Florida Highway Patrol, where he retired as a major and was given the honorary title of chief. Even after his retirement, Lopez continued protecting Central Floridians as a senior manager of security at a major Orlando-area theme park.
Lopez said the three priorities that would be the cornerstone of his administration include violent crime reduction, community policing and recruitment, retention and department morale.
Like Mina and Lopez, former Eatonville Police Chief Eric McIntyre threw his name in the hat for the last Orange County sheriff’s race. McIntyre began his law enforcement career as a patrol deputy in Orange County in 1995 and from there climbed the ranks until he was eventually named Eatonville’s chief of police. McIntyre’s tenure as chief of police was not without controversy, though. Then-Mayor Anthony Grant approved his dismissal in October 2015 for allegedly showing up late for meetings. McIntyre was reinstated a week later.
McIntyre, who also prides himself on having business and entrepreneurial experience as a business owner himself and representative for the rights of government and career service employees, claims to advocate for the rights of all people and strives to live by these words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Darryl B. Sheppard
In a show of perseverance, Darryl Sheppard is again running for the chance to become Orange County’s next sheriff, after surviving a lawsuit in the last election that called for the court to disqualify him from the ballot. A judge denied the lawsuit. While Sheppard doesn’t have the extensive law enforcement background some of the other candidates have to offer, the business investor believes he has what it takes to bring the changes he thinks Orange County needs to see, calling himself “the people’s choice” in the 2018 election. In the 2018 race, Sheppard finished second, securing 184,281 votes in November, compared to Mina’s 205,949, according to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections. Sheppard’s 2020 campaign focuses on the following, according to his website: Re-establishing trust between law enforcement and the community, creating and enhancing transparency, restoring respect and control to the citizens, creating and promoting policies to decrease marijuana arrests, using a “confiscate and educate” approach and creating programs and a climate that promote diversity.
Florida’s primary is Aug. 18.
You can learn more about the primary and what races you can expect to see on your ballot with ClickOrlando.com’s complete 2020 voter guide.