We're interviewing candidates in the race for Broward County Sheriff. So far, that means Scott Israel, this guy, and incumbent Sheriff Al Lamberti (who has not accepted an interview request).
The Pulp orders coffee, black.
|He suggested a meeting at Lester's Diner on State Road 84. We approve.|
Granteed orders unsweetened iced tea.
So, what's the biggest problem with the BSO today?
Let's talk about what I bring that is different. I have 30 years of public safety service here in Broward County [all of them with the Hollywood Police Department] and a record and history of strong leadership.
That's almost exactly what Scott Israel told us about himself. What sets you apart, specifically?
Thirty years of leadership in a major metropolitan police organization, experience in administration, operations, budgetary issues, union relations, government, and community involvement.
But Al Lamberti was with the BSO for 30 years before becoming sheriff. So what needs to change?
Being the Broward sheriff is a very critical position in Broward County. You're responsible for over 700 million taxpayer dollars and over 6,000 employees. We need a strong leader [Prediction: You're going to hear "leadership" talked about a lot in this race] with a strong voice. Someone to lead the agency into a brighter future. In addition, the community has to have faith in the sheriff to ensure that the taxpayer dollars are being managed on a daily basis in a highly responsible and ethical way.
The BSO, as you mentioned, is a sprawling, bureaucratic office. Do you see the sheriff as more of a law enforcement position, in line with your experience, or more about management?
The sheriff has a contractual obligation to several cities in Broward County and also has a public safety responsibility to work in partnership with chiefs of police. Starting as a community service officer at 18, becoming a police officer at 19, and working up through the ranks has given me a wide range of experience I can put into effect as the sheriff. I have personal drive and a solid understanding of responsibilities in the agency.
How about union relations? You've seen some disagreements involving the Hollywood force.
As a police administrator, I always want to have excellent working relations with the bargaining units. I believe in collective bargaining, and I believe in honoring it. If you tell them you're going to do it, then honor it.
There's talk of unhappiness within the BSO these days. You're a connected guy. What are you hearing?
One of the issues is: I'm not there, and neither are you. But I do hear from conversations I have around Broward County that it's time for a change [again, almost exactly what Israel said].
I've read it. I have not been personally involved.
Will you touch on those issues in your campaign?
I'm going to be running on my record. I'm not looking to tear down the BSO. As an incoming sheriff, there's a lot of issues there that create concern and obviously have to be looked into. Anytime there's an allegation of corruption, it creates an immediate concern for the head of a police organization.
Obviously somebody spent a significant amount of time putting the book together, even though it's officially anonymous. In law enforcement, when somebody does something good, we all look good. But if they do something bad, we look bad. Once something comes to light, the important part becomes how you handle and deal with it.
A risky but possibly necessary area seems to be fundraising by hobnobbing with wealthy and powerful folks. Is gladhanding just a part of becoming sheriff?
Right now, I'm the number-one fundraiser in the primary election. I've raised $120,000. I have the most grassroots contributions of anybody in the race. I've raised four times the money [of Israel] in half the time. Over 325 of my donors gave $100 or less.
Who are those people, by and large?
There's a wide range. I've been in Broward County for 35 years.
You've been described as garnering support from important "Democratic condos." Is that an important base for you?
In order to win the Democratic primary, you need Democratic voters. I have many Democratic friends, many Republican friends, many independent friends. Even though it is a partisan race, the sheriff serves everybody.
Should it be a partisan race?
Everyone seems to agree on that, actually. Lamberti has said publicly that it should be a nonpartisan office, though he won with heavy Republican support. So why doesn't anyone move to change it?
[At this point, Granteed asks to go off the record and proceeds to engage us in a frank, savvy, good-humored discussion. Unfortunately, he won't let us print any of it. When we go back on the record, his answers are once again very measured.]
What's been tough for you as a first-time candidate?