Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bowen: A little revisionist history from ex-Pasco Sheriff Jim Gillum

Jim Gillum, 72, who was ousted in Pasco, seeks Volusia’s job.

Jim Gillum, 72, who was ousted in Pasco, seeks Volusia’s job.

Jim Gillum is 72 now with a full head of gray hair he refuses to dye. He is a great-grandfather, and he says he is in good health with low blood pressure five years after smoking his last cigarette.

He is married to wife No. 4. "I got a good one this time," he says while his spouse of four years is within earshot. (He blames wife No. 2 for his career spiraling downward.)

Gillum does what Florida retirees do. He has a boat, parks it on a river and fishes. He makes lures. He paints landscapes he hopes are good enough to show off on the Internet. He is tech savvy enough to assemble his own website. He uses his green thumb for plant propagation. He drives to the Eagles Club to drink cranberry juice and croon Neil Diamond songs on karaoke night. Cracklin' Rosie and Sweet Caroline are his staples.

What he doesn't do anymore is police work. But he hopes to change that soon.

Gillum, a two-term Pasco County sheriff who lost his re-election bid 24 years ago after a scandalous second term in office, has surfaced as a candidate for Volusia County sheriff.

"When I was sheriff in Pasco County, I liked putting bad guys in jail, and I miss it. I really miss it," he said in a telephone interview.

He misses it enough to try to capture an open seat where he won't have to face an incumbent, although retiring Volusia Sheriff Ben Johnson is backing another candidate. Right now, it could be a crowded ballot. Six candidates have pre-qualified in the nonpartisan race.

Gillum looks at the field and says, "I don't see any real competition, nobody that's had experience as a sheriff. It depends on what the people see and what the public wants."

He adds, "If you'll remember, none of the newspapers ever ran stories that I was incompetent or not capable. It was the personal stuff where I got attacked."

Perhaps Gillum has selective memory. The "personal stuff'' included accepting a 1984 campaign contribution from a drug trafficker, and, during his second term, hiring his girlfriend for an unadvertised job in the legal department and later promoting her to staff attorney. It's the kind of "personal stuff" that rightfully raised questions about his judgment.

There also were performance issues within the department that cast aspersions on Gillum's leadership capabilities. Detectives botched the interrogation of a murder suspect named Jeffrey Crouch, whose wife was found dead at Green Key Beach in 1987. Crouch was set free after a judge tossed out his incriminating statements. The personnel office mishandled the background checks on potential employees in advance of the Land O'Lakes jail opening in 1990. It brought a state investigation of records tampering. The late Cindy Kuhn, who had been fired from her lieutenant's job in 1989, sued the agency for sexual discrimination and accepted a $200,000 settlement a year after Gillum rejected her offer to end the lawsuit for $60,000.

Voters ousted Gillum in the 1992 primary, and he ran again unsuccessfully in 1996 and 2000. Gillum has blamed his 1991 divorce from his second wife, Patti, for his '92 electoral loss.

He moved to DeLand about a decade ago. Less crowded than Pasco County, he says, and no U.S. 19 to navigate. Nice people in Volusia, he says. And when Johnson announced his retirement as sheriff, Gillum decided, "I wouldn't mind doing that again."

His campaign website, jimgillumforsheriff.com, includes a section called "The Dirt," in which Gillum also details his 2007 arrest for failure to appear on a worthless check charge, which prosecutors later dropped.

When asked whether he would be double-dipping, he said he isn't drawing a state pension. He didn't qualify for the Florida retirement system after eight years in office.

"That's not why I'm running. No. It would be part of the benefit, but I'm not doing it for that. I'm not doing it for the hospitalization. I'm not doing it for a free car, and I'm not doing it for a free gun."

Gillum's top asset just might be his personal charm. He turned it on during a candidates night last week. Asked about someone running for office at his age, the ex-sheriff paraphrased President Ronald Reagan.

I won't hold my opponents' inexperience against them, he told the gathering.

And he doesn't plan on age slowing him down. His mother lived until she was 93, and his great-grandmother reached 96. He said he hopes he got enough of their genes to match their longevity. But, physical exercise apparently isn't a big part of the plan.

"The treadmill is still folded up, and I look at it once in a while," he said. "Hey, I'm lucky. A lot of people don't have a folded-up treadmill to look at."

No, he doesn't need gym equipment for a workout. For the duration of this political campaign, at least, Gillum will get plenty of exercise hauling around baggage.

Bowen: A little revisionist history from ex-Pasco Sheriff Jim Gillum 03/10/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2016 10:37am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  2. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  4. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101