ORLANDO, Fla. – Darryl Sheppard, an Orlando venture capital firm CEO, predicts he can win the Democratic special election primary for Orange County sheriff in August and go on to win the general election in November.
The 35-year-old businessman acknowledges that his only brush with politics came when he considered a run for the District 5 commissioner’s seat held by Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill.
Sheppard said he dropped out of that race after changes in political boundaries landed his home address outside the district.
In an exclusive interview with News 6, Sheppard, who calls himself the “people’s candidate,” said he decided to run for sheriff because he couldn’t support any of the current candidates.
“This is a movement for change,” Sheppard said. “We really want to change the way we’re treated, the way we interact with police and we want to change the climate today.”
Sheppard’s portfolio shows his investments in various stages of development, including his business with the Superman’s hairstyling company and MGS Moving Guys and Supplies company.
The Full Moon Lounge at Woodstock, an LGBT bar in Orlando in which Sheppard invested, was forced to close last year because of city ordinance and parking issues.
While running his first official political campaign, Sheppard said his management experience has prepared him for the sheriff’s position.
“I believe I’m the best candidate for the job,” he told News 6. “I feel the solutions that I bring, the creativity and the relationships I have in the community give me a significant edge, as opposed to some who (have) held the position for 30 years.”
When asked about his hopes for changes in policy, Sheppard said he would issue body-worn cameras for every deputy in the field.
“I think they’re an absolute necessity to back up the accounts that a law enforcement officer may give or the accounts that a citizen may give, “ he said.
Sheppard is also a proponent of metal detectors and student screening.
“The actors in these school shootings are not outsiders,” Sheppard said. “… They’re students, so we have to address the people inside the school, not just the people outside.”
As of now, Sheppard will face former Eatonville police Chief Eric McIntyre as his opponent in the Democratic primary.
The winner will face Orlando police Chief John Mina and former Florida Highway Patrol Mjr. Joe Lopez in the general election.
Because Lopez and Mina have declared no party affiliation, they will not have to run in a primary.
Candidates running with a party affiliation will pay 6 percent of the sheriff’s salary as of July 1, 2017, or $10,136.94.
Candidate’s running under no party affiliation will pay 4 percent of the sheriff’s salary as of July 1, 2017, or $6,757.96.
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