Sheriff Darnell

Sheriff Darnell

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell is making her fifth run as the county sheriff.   

The Gainesville native has served in local law enforcement for 42 years and has been sheriff for more than a decade. Darnell, 67, was first elected to the position in 2006 and currently serves as the only female sheriff in Florida. 

Darnell said she has increased training for 911 call takers and created a dog training program in the county jail.

“What our primary duty as law enforcement officers or deputies is to serve crime victims,” Darnell said.

To start her campaign, her campaign manager, Scott Austin, 26, set up a website for campaign donors with her motto “Proven Leadership” which represents her decades of experience, she said. Her total campaign contributions have reached more than $7,000 as of Tuesday.  

Darnell, a Democrat, will be running against Republicans Steven Gordon and John Long and Democrat Clovis Watson for the Alachua primary election Aug. 18. 

According to the Gainesville Sun, Watson, 60, is a fourth-term house representative and has experience as former deputy chief of police for Alachua County and city manager. Gordon, 52, is a retired Broward County sheriff’s deputy and former private investigator. 

Darnell is also involved in a legal dispute against a former Alachua sheriff candidate Zach Zedalis. The court date is set for July 7 and was made because of employee discrimination following his campaign for sheriff, according to WCJB.

Alachua County Sheriff’s spokesperson Art Forgey said Darnell has brought a level of professionalism and excellence to the job as sheriff and was successful in reactivating the cold case unit, works on unsolved homicides and missing persons cases.

“She is by far the hardest working sheriff that I’ve ever worked for,” Forgey said. 

Her goals for the next term include improving in the areas of mental health, victim services and making the county jail a safe place for individuals to be incarcerated.

“The agency is in a constant state of improvement,” Darnell said. “We’re always looking to do better.”

Contact Allessandra Inzinna at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @ainzinna.