Aside from providing law enforcement across a county with 1.4 million people, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office runs the county jail, provides security for the local courts and conducts child protective investigations. With about 3,500 employees, the office is the 12th largest county law enforcement agency in the United States. The sheriff is elected to a four-year term and paid $179,408 per year. The winner of the Aug. 18 primary faces two challengers in the general election on Nov. 3.
Republicans: Chad Chronister
This one’s easy. Sheriff Chad Chronister worked his way through the agency’s ranks over a three-decade career, winning a special election in 2018 after serving in a caretaker role. Chronister has made some mistakes, but he is a thoughtful and effective law enforcement chief, and far more deserving than his primary opponent for the Republican nomination.
Chronister, 52, who joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1992, has the right professional background and administrative skills. As his predecessor’s hand-picked favorite for the job three years ago, Chronister is still putting his mark on the office. His interpretation of a state privacy protection for crime victims is overly broad, thereby depriving the public of information that has historically been provided in Florida. But Chronister has also focused on preventative programs to give offenders an opportunity to successfully reenter society. His community outreach efforts have improved the agency’s image and standing with minority groups. And Chronister is open enough to change his mind, as he did by embracing body-worn cameras, which reflects his deliberative nature and sense of public accountability.
His primary challenger, Charles Brian Boswell, is a former homicide detective and 25-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office who retired in 2017. Boswell, 50, contends that Chronister has alienated local Republicans by being too close to local Democrats. “If he wants to be a Democrat, let him register as a Democrat and run as such,” Boswell said.
Though the sheriff is elected in a partisan race, Chronister rightly views his duties in nonpartisan terms, which is what everyone should want from law enforcement. He is by far the best choice in the primary. The Tampa Bay Times recommends Chad Chronister in the Republican primary for Hillsborough County Sheriff.
Candidates not recommended by the editorial board are offered an opportunity to reply. They can send replies of up to 150 words by 5 p.m. July 27 to Editor of Editorials Graham Brink at email@example.com.
Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news