FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – There’s been a sheriff shakeup in Broward County as Democrat Scott Israel defeated Republican Sheriff Al Lamberti in his re-election bid.
With all precincts reporting, Israel led Lamberti by more than 45,000 votes.
“What the hell happened?” asked Paul Castronovo from The Paul and Young Ron radio show Wednesday morning. “I don’t know guys. The job for me was the easy part, it was the politics that was the difficult part,” replied Lamberti.
Lamberti, a member of the sheriff’s office for almost 35 years, ran on his record of tackling crime that faces most Broward residents: pill mills, synthetic drugs and identity theft.
His defeat came as a surprise not only to him but all of his deputies who he said gave him their full support.
“All of them supported me in the election so I think they are kind of shocked as well but they are professionals, they know what to do and public safety is their number one priority and they’ll be fine serving the people of Broward County.”
Israel, a former North Bay Village police chief and Fort Lauderdale officer, campaigned on reducing the number of young people and homeless who fill Broward County jails.
Israel spoke to CBS4 News early Wednesday morning and said the first thing he wants to change in the office is the culture and leadership style.
“As I say, an army of lions led by a deer is always going to be defeated by an army of deer led by a lion. I want to provide the leadership to the men and women over there that’s going to allow them to do their jobs because they are so talented. I will diversify the work force and we will work differently so the people who have never gotten opportunities to do what they want, we’ll get these opportunities,” said Israel.
Israel said he wasn’t surprised by his victory. “I did believe we’d win and we worked so hard, so long.”
Lamberti was hoping to win reelection despite being a Republican in a heavily Democrat county.
Lamberti said it’s been an honor and a privilege to serve Broward County for more than 30 years. He also posted a big thank you on his Facebook friends to all of his friends, family and supporters who he said poured out their hearts and souls during the election.
Lamberti said he will continue to serve as Sheriff through January.