By: Anne Geggis
Sheriff Gregory Tony is facing his first bid for election in August with a seal of approval from the mayors from Parkland, Tamarac, Dania Beach, and North Lauderdale.
Tony became Broward County’s top cop when Gov. Ron DeSantis ousted Sheriff Scott Israel from the post in January 2019, citing Israel’s bungled handling of the Parkland school shooting.
Now Tony, whose controversial past has suddenly emerged, is facing his predecessor in the Democratic Party primary.
Both Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky and Tamarac Mayor Michelle Gomez have high praise for Tony’s level of communication with residents and the elected leaders of their respective communities.
“It’s mainly that the outreach and communication have improved under him,” Hunschofsky said, explaining why she’s endorsing Tony.
Not only is Parkland’s captain accessible, the sheriff’s office now does outreach on social media platforms like Nextdoor.com and Twitter, and in person, Hunschofsky said.
“They (BSO personnel) are attending HOA meetings regularly,” Hunschofsky said.
Tamarac’s Gomez said, in a written statement, that the improvement Tony brought to the BSO was immediate: “… He reached out to the municipal mayors of Broward County. He set up regular group meetings for us to discuss concerns in our cities and the county as a whole. It is good to know that we have a direct line of open communication to our county’s sheriff …”
Notably, however, there are no endorsements from the leaders of some of BSO’s biggest client cities: Deerfield Beach and Weston. Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer and Deerfield Mayor Bill Ganz both said they had not endorsed a candidate for sheriff.
Israel was suspended from his elected position for what DeSantis called “incompetence and dereliction of duty.” The Florida Senate upheld that suspension, and the job became Tony’s.
But Tony has recently run afoul of the BSO union for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Tony suspended the president of the deputy sheriff’s union, Jeff Bell, after the union leader claimed BSO was not providing enough protective equipment to deputies, according to reporting in the Sun-Sentinel on the dust-up.
Shortly after that, more Sun-Sentinel reporting emerged, showing that Tony had lied on his application to be a Coral Springs officer when he neglected to mention he was charged with shooting another teenager when he was 14. He was cleared of those charges, however.
Neither Gomez nor Hunschofsky would comment on the revelations from Tony’s past. Or pictures of him and his wife participating in a swinger’s club party that conservative operative Red Broward tweeted.
Hunschofsky brushed off the latest controversies.
“I endorsed him because of the job he’s done in our community,” she said.
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- Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun-Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.
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