SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – It’ll be up to the people of Seminole County to decide who will be their top cop going forward as they vote for the next sheriff.
Both names have appeared on Central Florida ballots before. The Republican candidate, Dennis Lemma, has served as Seminole County sheriff since 2017 while Democrat Paul “Spike” Hopkins unsuccessfully ran for the role in Orange County in 2016.
Whoever wins will decide how crime is enforced in Seminole County for the next four years and manage the sheriff’s office’s multi-million dollar budget.
Before the November election, get to know more about the two candidates vying for the position.
Here’s what you need to know:
Dennis Lemma (R)
Dennis Lemma is a decadeslong Seminole County resident who has served as sheriff since he was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2017. Before he was elected, he served as a deputy, a school resource officer, a sergeant of the Special Operations Section and an investigator for the crimes against children unit with law enforcement experience dating back to the 1990s. His goals for the office include reducing violent crime, fighting the opioid epidemic and committing to community policing. Lemma serves as the chair of a statewide drug abuse prevention panel and as the chair of Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Transition Advisory Committee Working Group on Opioid Abuse. Click here to learn more about Lemma.
Paul “Spike” Hopkins (D)
Paul “Spike” Hopkins is emerging from his retirement after 30 years in law enforcement in hopes of serving as the county’s next sheriff. He says concerns from deputies within the department and his vested interest in the community and its safety inspired him to put his name on the ballot. If elected, he’d like to hire and retain more deputies who in turn could patrol the streets, close unsolved homicide cases and create a smartphone app that would allow residents to know why deputies are responding to their neighborhood. Requiring every deputy to wear a body camera and creating a system that would assign certain deputies to certain neighborhoods so they can get to know the people who live there are a few policies he’d like to enact. Click here to learn more about Hopkins.
Election Day is Nov. 3.