Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood plans to run for reelection in 2020 and he is refusing to just go along to get along with his detractors.
The sheriff has been fighting the Volusia County Commission right after he was elected in 2016. Chitwood doesn’t plan for that to change any time soon.
“I’m willing to work with anybody who wants to work with me, but if you want to be an obstructionist, and if you want to try and stop me, get ready for the bus to run you over,” he told Florida Daily.
Chitwood’s disputes with the county commission are over Amendment 10. In November, voters passed the measure which ensures county constitutional officers like sheriffs, tax collectors and elections supervisors are independently elected offices and no longer subservient to the staff and commissioners that run the rest of county operations. Noting the proposed amendment passed, Chitwood says those changes are coming in 2021 and it is time for Volusia County to get on board.
“That will give all of the constitutional officers a seat at the table and will create more transparency with the budget process,” Chitwood said.
Volusia County is suing to stop the amendment’s implementation to retain control over its constitutional offices despite it easily passing in November. This lawsuit and subsequent appeals after the county lost in circuit court have Chitwood outraged and he said he is not in the mood to play nice.
“Amendment 10 gives me and the other constitutional officers the ability to run our department for what we were elected to do,” Chitwood said. “We work with the county council to get our budget and then go to work… starting times, crime fighting strategies, discipline, hiring, firing, all of those issues, the authority is delegated to the county. That’s the only county in the state of Florida that does that. Amendment 10 fixes that.”
The sheriff, elected to his current post after a long tenure as Daytona Beach’s police chief singled out Volusia Commissioners Heather Post and Barbara Girtman as council members he would like to see retained in office. For the rest, the sheriff says Volusia is ripe for change.
“Folk are getting elected that are more about transparency and more about being there to work with the community, not the developers of this place,” he said.
Asked why he should be reelected, Chitwood would not evaluate his own performance but he did laud his deputies.
“I watched them pursue a stolen bicycle to make an arrest and recover that bike with the same intensity they pursue a murder suspect and that’s rare to find little crimes being treated with the same sense of urgency you would major crimes,” he said.
Chitwood cited statistics as well with overall crime being down in Deltoa and across the county by double digit percentage points.
“I believe that there are a lot of great things going on here in the sheriff’s office with technology, with training, with crime fighting strategies,” he said.
If he wins a second term, Chitwood said Volusia County should not expect a lot of changes.
“I am not going to sit in the sandbox and play nice just to be part of a good old boy network,” he said. “That’s not how I got elected. My pledge to the people of Volusia County is, I’m going to be me. I am going to be as outspoken as I deem necessary and when you get tired of me, you are going to vote me out of office.”
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.