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Ex-Cop Larry Jones Will Challenge Sheriff Manfre for Democratic Nomination

| January 19, 2016

larry jones sheriff flagler

Larry Jones, who retired from the sheriff’s office in 2014, is the nionth candidate for sheriff in this year’s election, but only the second on the Democratic side.

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre’s opposition in this year’s election is no longer exclusively Republican. A member of his own party filed on Monday to challenge Manfre for the Democratic nomination for sheriff: Larry Jones, the long-time Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy who retired as a sergeant in November 2014 to praise from Manfre himself: “None of us is irreplaceable, but Sergeant Jones comes close,” Manfre said at the time.


Jones did not return the favor in comments he made in a statement he emailed to local media this afternoon, which read more as an opening salvo: “Flagler County is facing many unique issues in regards to an increased crime rate and decreased morale of all employees,” he said, referring to sheriff’s office employees, where Manfre has not made many friends despite a 5 percent raise for the rank and file, the first substantial raise since 2007. In an interview later, Jones described morale as being “at an all-time low, it’s at the lowest I’ve ever seen it. It must be from the leadership.”

Manfre responded in kind. “This race is about my record not about his running, I will run on my record and I expect to be reelected based on it,” the sheriff said in a phone interview after Jones’s announcement. Of Jones, he said he “represents the best and worst of law enforcement.” He credited Jones for his community policing, for example, but said that “in 20 years no sheriff promoted him above the level of sergeant, for very definite reasons. Larry is a complainer.” Manfre said Jones complained about not getting enough overtime and about the department’s IT program (not uncommon complaints for cops and firefighters anywhere). “I don’t see that kind of personality making a good sheriff.”

“Let him talk,” was Jones’s response.

Jones, 55, notes that he served for over 30 years in law enforcement, including two years as second in command of the sheriff’s Palm Coast precinct. When Jones retired, the sheriff’s office’s news release underlined the numerous commendations for professionalism, dedication, courteousness and respectful demeanor that filled his personnel record, along with various awards. And it was Manfre who had recommended Jones supervise the Bunnell Police Department 15 years ago, when Manfre was in his first tenure as sheriff and Bunnell’s department was in turmoil. Bunnell, which until recently had treated blacks as second-class citizens, rebuffed Jones, who is black, not wanting its department supervised by a black man. (The department has since had a black and Hispanic chief.)

Jones said his priorities will be to restore morale and “bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement,” a gap he said is apparent across the nation because of the numerous controversies swirling around police shootings. He said no similar issues have arisen in Flagler County, but that relations between police and citizenry are still strained “to a degree.”

Jones gained prominence especially with his Christmas With a Deputy program, which marked had its seventh year. The non-profit program enables some 100 poorer children to have a shopping spree, with a deputy and $150. The money is donated.

Jones started his career as a corrections officer in 1984, moving to road patrol the following year. He served as a School Resource Office and in the agency’s Drug Interdiction Task Force. A Bunnell native, he’s also owned Larry’s Lawn Care, a landscaping business, since 1997.

With one exception, primaries have been kind Manfre, who has an overall record of 3-1 in those contests. He won the 2000 primary, defeating Robert McCarthy on his way to winning his first term as sheriff (he beat Arthur Dyer in the general that year). Running for re-election in 2004, he lost in the Democratic primary to Thomas Hutson, who went on to lose to Don Fleming. He won the primary in a four-way contest in 2008 but lost to Fleming in the general. In 2012, he easily beat Karl Tozzi before eking out a victory against Fleming.

Other than Manfre and Jones, seven candidates have filed to run for sheriff so far, six of them Republican, one of them independent. The Republicans are–in alphabetical order–Don Fleming, John Lamb, Gerard O’Gara, Rick Staly, Mark Whisenant and Christopher Yates. The independent is Thomas Dougherty. It is the largest field by far in local elections and the most monied–the candidates have raised or borrowed a combined $134,500–and likely to remain that way as candidates perceive Manfre to be the more vulnerable of the constitutional officers to take on.

In comparison, incumbents such as Property Appraiser James Gardner and Suzanne Johnston, who have also declared, have drawn no opposition so far. They list not a dime in fund-raising so far. Gail Wadsworth, the clerk of court, is not running, which should have opened the way to a competitive race. Instead, her chosen successor, Deputy Clerk Tom Bexley, sits alone as the only declared candidate in that race, further underscoring the divide between offices considered safe and those considered vulnerable. Money alone isn’t the reason: the sheriff’s position pays $126,000 a year, not much more than the $117,000 for each of the other three constitutional offices.

The supervisor of elections position pays just under $100,000 (there’s a legislative proposal to raise that pay). Incumbent Kaiti Lenhard has drawn two challengers so far.

Also on Tuesday, County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen made his re-election bid official, filing the necessary papers with the supervisor of elections. The decision was not a surprise: he’d announced it in December. “I’ve been making sure everything was cleared with the doctor,” Ericksen said, referring to his medical issues earlier last year. “I had a cat scan last Friday that came up all clear. He said you just continue to do all your regular duties, your biking, your politics, and you’re OK.”

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43 Responses for “Ex-Cop Larry Jones Will Challenge Sheriff Manfre for Democratic Nomination”

  1. Kendall says:

    Very glad to see this candidate come forth!! He’s not a recent transplant here to win an election. He is a long time member of our community and has 30 years of experience in the FCSO. He has seen the best and the worst of many facets here. We need somebody like him. Best of luck to you Sgt Jones!

  2. He’s got my vote!! Awesome guy.

  3. David B says:

    So glad we have a local, who has been here and served here. Larry knows this county, and the people that live here, and their needs.

  4. Woody says:

    Finally,I wish I could vote today.

  5. Shane says:

    It’s ironic that he complained about the IT department. Something That fell flat on its face earlier this year, when they lost the server containing all of their computer assisted dispatching information. Keeping a backup of your servers is one of the most basic things when you are running an IT department. Maybe Manfre should stop calling Jones a complainer, and actually look into what Jones is complaining about.

  6. Heading North says:

    Did I just read that Sheriff Manfre actually called Larry Jones ” the best and WORST of law enforcement”???? Where in hell does that idiot get off, criticizing a devoted 30 year man with an exemplary record of aiding and protecting the citizens of Flagler county?? Talk about an absolute moron!! Does Manfre think his record is a standout example of a law enforcement officer (which he isn’t anyway)??? Larry Jones has been a friend of mine for his (and mine) entire career, and I could not ask for a more professional, dedicated officer!!!
    Mr. Manfre better either eat his words, appologise publicly, or go back to where he came from! And he should also attempt to pull his head out of his @&$! while he’s at it. His “better than everybody” attitude absolutely DISGUSTS me!!!

  7. Known him my whole life and never heard anything bad about him which in law enforcement is rare.

  8. Awesome !!!!!! Norma Jones, yay !!!

  9. Judy Delarosby says:

    Sgt. Jones you can count on my vote, best of luck to you.

  10. Almost 30 year resident says:

    Don’t know if I want to see Sgt Jones get beat up and blamed for every crime in the book if he gets elected. Always has a smile on his face that I would hat to see him lose and age prematurely when the haters start hating even if he was doing a good job.

  11. Billy Bob Boo says:

    Amen to that!

  12. finally says:

    I am so glad that Larry decided to run. He is an outstanding honest man who has his finger on the pulse of this community. He is not sleezy like we all know who. Larry keep your head up and ignore the riffraf. They will attack you because it is all they know. No one believes a person who has already been found guilty by the state ethics board of lying and forgetting things.

  13. We wish you the very best! Joe’s aunt and uncle from Minnesota

  14. Anonymous says:

    HE’S GOT MY VOTE!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I have worked with Larry for 10 years. He is the real deal. Just what this office needs. We are behind you 100 percent.

  16. Ace says:

    Good luck to you Larry. When is more going to be released about the ethic complaint Manfre is challenging that he was found to be in violation on several counts?

  17. Reality says:

    Unfortunately Larry Jones was never promoted because of one simple fact. The same reason that our schools are under investigation by the state. He is a black man. Manfre nor Fleming who account for the last 16 years of leadership at the Sheriff’s Office never promoted ONE person of color above the rank of sergeant. NEVER! in fact the only person of minority that has ever been above the rank of sergeant in the Sheriff’s Office was Lynn Cattiggo. She was promoted from the rank of corporal to Captain by Fleming. Manfre fired her when he took office. FlaglerLive…ask manfre why he never promoted any…ANYONE to a position above the rank of sergeant who was a minority….if only it were legal to record conversations in Florida,

  18. GREAT GUY!!! He has my vote!

  19. Jim Ohlin says:

    Hopefully, Larry Jones will make an issue of any relationship between Manfre and the Weeks family, and the way that Manfre handled the ripping apart and killing of the Terrell family’s pony by Weeks’ vicious dogs roaming free. “no charges” and “matter closed” just like that.

    Is making false statements to a law enforcement officer not a crime in your county?

  20. Markingthedays says:

    With all these candidates running, you’d think there is a tub of candy for the winner or something.

  21. Robert says:

    Good Story.

    Question to Flagler Live (you do not have to publish this – a reply directly to me is OK, although others opinions is appreciated): This is NOT racist, sexist, any other “ist” – what is it with the Zoom-In of peoples faces these days? On this website, other websites, cable/regular TV, News, commercials, TV Shows, all seem to have adopted this Zoom-In of peoples faces! I do not understand the need to show someones nosehairs, freckles, pimples, etc on a 40″ plus TV – it actually distorts the camera shot. Do you Media outlets do this because you can, is everyone self-centered, etc? I have stopped watching Sports, certain News outlets (FNC is the worst), even local news because of this. I stick to (XM) Radio and the Internet.

    I have asked this of various TV Stations, only received silence. I have noticed that FL does respond (positive/negative) to comments, please do. TY.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Robert,

      We’re approving your comment for public view because it raises a fair question and deserves an explanation. In this instance the picture was not our first choice. It was not a FlaglerLive picture: we don’t have one of Sgt. Jones, otherwise we’d have preferred it over this. This is his official shot from the Sheriff’s Office, cropped this way to lessen its connection to the office, since he’s no longer employed there. It’s not an ideal representation, but as we had to illustrate the piece with Jones’s portrait, this was the best we could do for now. We’ll have occasions to shoot our own images soon, hopefully. As for the broader trend toward these close-ups, again, I doubt it’s anything intentionally thought out from some school of aesthetics (or lack of aesthetics, as the case may be) so much as a matter of doing what we can with what we have. We’re still working on winning over Annie Liebovitz.

  22. happening now says:

    Unless it gets mean, Mr. Jones will be our new sheriff. Here’s looking at you!!!!

  23. C says:

    Larry Jones for sheriff! He is the man for the job.

  24. Barry Hartmann says:

    Larry, you have my VOTE!!! Sorry to hear you complained about the IT department, nothing can go wrong,go wrong , go wrong…………..egg is on the Sheriffs face!

  25. Rich Mikola says:

    I have known Larry for many years. He will make an excellent sheriff! We need a local officer, not someone from the northeast hoping to cash in in Flagler County. Larry is well respected among his fellow officers and known through out the community for his good works with his church and community groups. Character counts and Larry Jones has it. Sheriff Jones sound great to me! His election will benefit everyone in Flagler County. He’s got my vote.

  26. Donnie Riddle says:

    If I could vote more than once for Larry you bet I would ! Larry grew up here and really cares about this county, knows the people and is not a transplant from north of town. He is the real deal and I urge his support from everyone !

  27. Anonymous says:

    My vote

  28. Michael Van Buren says:

    Sheriff Jones! Not only do I like the sound of it! I can’t think of a better candidate. Godspeed Larry!

  29. Cyril Stubbs says:

    Larry is the most qualified and ideal candidate for county Sheriff. Understanding the needs of the community and the people who reside in it, are key factors toward establishing positive relationships. His professionalism and humble demeanor exudes compassionate and care towards others. This is vitally important, especially when engaged in public relations. My prayers and support will be rendered on your behalf.

  30. jessie says:

    Larry Jones.
    My votes for you Hands Down. I’ve seen you around since I was born in this little city. So glad you are running.

  31. lenamarshall says:

    about time, this should all the dead horses out to pasture!
    Vote Jones

  32. Paul Mercado - Retired FCSO SGT says:

    Retired Sgt. Jones, wishing you all the best on your run for SHERIFF! Make History and Good Luck!

  33. Chris Hansen says:

    Larry is the best man for the job. I’ve known him my entire life and can’t think of one negative thing. You’ve got my vote Larry

  34. Retired says:

    It seems you folks are confusing your personal feelings for a very nice man who has lived and served in that community his whole life, for what actually qualifies him for the position of “Sheriff”. I know morale is at an all time low and change is necessary for the FCSO, but come on people. Tell me what makes Larry the best qualified candidate.

    I agree with absolutely everyone of you who point out he is a very nice guy. Hell, I and my children like him as well, but that does not mean He can do what needs to be done to restore the morale at the FCSO.

    I also want to point out to you voters, that no matter what the morale is at the FCSO, those men and women who wear that uniform go out everyday and give you, the citizens, their absolute best. They continue to answer their calls and investigate crimes to their fullest no matter how unhappy they are with the man who sits down the hall.

    So I will await patiently for Larry or someone else to explain to me why he’s the best for the job. BTW no matter what the outcome I will always consider him my friend, although after reading this, he may not feel the same.

    I am just not going to throw my support or vote to someone simply because they are a nice guy.

  35. Brian Larson says:

    Larry has my vote , have known him for over 25 years , nicest guy in the world, honest ,and always helpful and professional , ….and he took care of the 72 Monte Carlo I sold him back in the 80`s…….wish I had it now lol , but I honestly think he`d be a great fit,….. not just for the Sheriff`s office , but with the community, he has built a lot of friendships and earned much respect from the people in this county……Good Luck Larry!!

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