By Ted Scouten

BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Wayne Clark is hoping to be Broward’s next sheriff.

But for a Republican running in a Democrat-dominated county, it’s a tough fight.

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“Maybe I’m being overconfident,” Clark said. “I can tell you I’ve gotten so much support from the democrats, it’s overwhelming.”

Clark has no law enforcement experience. He sees that as a plus. He’s ex-military, a business man and lawyer. He wants to use those skills to head the agency of 5,700 employees.

“BSO’s not a police department,” he said.  “It should be run as a business organization because it’s way more than a police department.  It’s the jails, it’s the airport, seaport, law enforcement, fire, ems, communication, mental health.  So you’ve got to run all those components to make it effective and efficient.”

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Clark said he’ll surround himself with highly qualified career law officers – allowing him to lead the agency.

In response to summer protests over allegations of police bias, Clark wants to build relationships with the public and have deputies live locally and visibly in the communities they serve.

“I can tell you the overwhelming majority of people I speak to like the fact that I don’t have the law enforcement background. They know I can come in with their eyes and fix things. We have to build a relationship between BSO and community.  We’re not doing that,” he said.

Current Sheriff Gregory Tony is the Democrat in the race.

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He was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis when Scott Israel was removed after the Parkland Massacre.

Tony points out that under on his watch, BSO has upped their training, beefed up the professional standards committee and is working to stem racial bias.

“We launched a social justice task force. A 21-member social justice task for to include Black Lives Matter. These are things that the county is crying for, but here at BSO we’ve already done,” Sheriff Tony said.

During his time in office, Tony has faced highly charged incidents that were captured on camera.

“We were very fortunate to have our own test early,” Tony said. “We had several different cases of excessive force related to a young black man’s face being slammed into the ground to, law enforcement officers striking individuals in handcuffs in hospitals.  And these were challenges we accepted and took very aggressive action, suspension even up to termination.”

One of BSO’s unions issued a “No Confidence” vote against Tony, like it had against his predecessor.

“The moment I won the primary and had the trust of the Democratic party, was to call the union presidents in and say, ‘Hey, enough is enough. We have to move this agency forward.’ For the first time, this agency is being led by 500 years of institutional knowledge and experience. I’ve promoted only from within,” Tony said.

Now both men making their final pitch as voting is already underway.

Tony said, “I am currently the sheriff of this county. There’s roughly 2 million people who need me focused to do my job. And if I’m doing my job, that’s my campaign slogan.”

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Clark said, “We’re going to have a top notch command staff. We’re also going to have men and women on the ground knowing we have their back every day.”

Ted Scouten