AN UPHILL BATTLE: Longtime Sheriff's Office veteran Darlene Greene touts her experience, but incumbent Bob White has had an unclouded first term.
In 2000, Darlene Greene retired from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office command staff when then-Sheriff-elect Bob White gave her "no indication whatsoever" she would be retained, she said then.
Now, she wants White's job.
"With my background and with my qualifications," she says, "I'm one of the best candidates Pasco County has ever had for sheriff."
But hers might be an uphill battle. In a county where the office of sheriff has been marked in past years by scandal and controversy, White's four years in office have appeared to be smooth sailing.
Four years ago, it was White who faced tough odds. But he seemingly came from nowhere to unseat two-term incumbent Lee Cannon. He did so with the help of the county's formidable Republican machine, including former County Commissioner Ed Collins and state Sen. Mike Fasano.
White says his administration prides itself on being community centered and responsive to the needs of ordinary residents.
"We have to serve the people," he says. "That's the goal."
So far, White has made no major public mistakes. He also seems to have developed a spirit of cooperation with the County Commission, which controls his agency's funding. Under Cannon - and an administration that included Greene - annual budget talks with commissioners had degenerated into fighting and name-calling.
But Greene, it should be remembered, is no stranger to being the underdog. In 31 years with the Sheriff's Office, she blazed a trail through the ranks past narrower minds to become a major - the agency's highest-ranking woman.
If she were to win this contest, she would become the first woman ever to win a general election for sheriff in the state of Florida.
Pasco County's sheriff serves a four-year term and oversees more than 1,090 employees. The Sheriff's Office provides law enforcement for the unincorporated areas of Pasco County. It also provides court security, handles child abuse investigations and runs the county's two jails. The sheriff will earn $134,923 next year.
REPUBLICANBOB WHITE, 54, is running for a second term as sheriff. Before being elected sheriff, White was a sergeant in the Clearwater office of the state Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. White received his associate's degree in criminal justice from Pasco-Hernando Community College. His law enforcement career has included stints as an officer with the Brooksville Police Department and the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, and four years as a trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol. In 1977, he took a job as a special agent with the Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. He worked there for four years, then in 1981 was hired as a branch manager and operations officer with First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Brooksville. In 1987, he returned to the Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. He is married and has a daughter, who is a police officer in Clearwater. ASSETS: Home, investments, savings. LIABILITIES: Mortgage, loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: Salary. WEB SITE: http://www.sheriffbobwhite.com/
DARLENE GREENE, 57, started at the Sheriff's Office in 1969 as a clerk. In the early 1970s, then-sheriff Basil Gaines promoted her to detective. She worked cases that involved bad checks, missing people and sexual batteries. She was the first woman in uniform at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. When John Short was elected sheriff in 1977, she asked him how she could achieve a higher rank in the agency. He told her that she would have to become a patrol deputy. Greene went through the academy and spent a year and a half on the road. She was promoted to the rank of sergeant, then promoted several more times. Then Sheriff Lee Cannon promoted her to major in 1993. In 1998, she graduated from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. Greene retired from the Sheriff's Office in 2000 as the agency's longest-serving employee and its highest-ranking woman. Born in Tampa, she now lives in Odessa with her husband, Jim. ASSETS: Home, investment property, savings, investments, sailboat. LIABILITIES: Mortgages. SOURCE OF INCOME: Pension. WEB SITE: http://www.greeneforsheriff.com/