Campaign officials for Everett Rice, who is seeking a return as Pinellas County Sheriff, issued a statement of support from state Sen. Dennis Jones Tuesday morning.
Rice is one of three Republican candidates who is running for the office, which is up for election next fall. He is also seeking Gov. Rick Scott's appointment as interim sheriff when Sheriff Jim Coats' resignation takes effect in November.
Here's the text of Jones' letter:
I am writing to you in support of Everett Rice who is running for Sheriff of Pinellas County.
As you probably know, Sheriff Rice served with distinction as our sheriff for four terms. In 1996 Everett made a two-term limit promise to the voters. He kept his promise when he refused to seek election in 2004, even though the term limits law was struck down in 2002 and his reelection was almost certain. How many politicians do you know that kept such a promise?
During his absence from the Office of Sheriff, Everett served a term in the Florida Legislature. As a legislator, Everett continued his ﬁght to protect our children by coauthoring the Jessica Lunsford Act, which provides for harsher penalties and greater protections against child sex offenders. He fought to protect our property rights by promoting the law that prohibits the government seizure of citizens’ land for economic purpose.
Everett Rice was an extraordinary sheriff. His proven leadership and integrity are a matter of record. Everett reformed the sheriff‘s office into a highly respected law enforcement and corrections agency. His popularity was demonstrated by the fact that he was reelected sheriff by a margin of two to one and later elected to the legislature without opposition.
Since incumbent Sheriff Jim Coats has decided not to seek reelection next year, the uncertainty in leadership in the of Sheriff has caused an outcry for Everett to return as our sheriff.
Everett is the only announced sheriff's candidate who is a proven sheriff. He is the only candidate with the years of experience, including serving in every leadership rank in the sheriffs ofﬁce and the Florida Sheriffs’ Association. He is the only candidate who has experienced the criminal justice system from all sides - serving as a sheriff, a legislator and a lawyer. He is the only candidate with the distinction of graduating from the FBI National Academy and the FBI National Executive Institute.
Over the years I have worked with Sheriff Rice, I have witnessed his passion and commitment to serve and protect the people of this county and the State of Florida. The choice for our next sheriff is clear. Only Everett Rice has the energy and the proven record of leadership and integrity. Only Everett understands the balance between public safety and justice, and only Everett has the proven record of protecting the people and his employees.
Even the best candidate needs funds to get their message out. Please review the enclosed material and send your contribution to Everett in the enclosed envelope or donate online at everettrice.com. Your ﬁnancial support of Everett will ensure that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Ofﬁce will have the leadership necessary to deal with the tough issues in the future. Your vote and support for Everett Rice would be greatly appreciated.
Dennis L. Jones, D.C.
State Senator - District 13