CLICK HERE TO LISTEN AND WATCH THE MARION COUNTY SHERIFF CANDIDATE DEBATE ARCHIVE
Bernie: Well, the only other thing I’d like to add is that not only did I earn the respect of Gov. Lawton Chiles and his cabinet, but, I also earned the respect of Republican Gov. Jeb Bush – who in public called me one of his “personal heroes” and appointed me to sit on 3 task forces including the statewide drug policy Advisory Council. So, I was very pleased to be a friend of Jeb Bush.
Buddy: Ok. Now, who is Dan Kuhn? He’s Undersheriff. He’s a graduate of the MC school system – continued his education at the U. of Fl. – received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida then continued his education earning a juris doctorate. He began his public service as an Assistant State Attorney for the 5th Judicial District in 1995 – then as a certified Law Enforcement Officer receiving his certification from Santa Fe Comm. College. He’s a graduate of the FBI investigation national academy in Quantico, Virginia and the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement Chief Executive Course as well. Additionally, he has served or currently serves on many community boards that focus on the betterment of the community and the improvement in our citizens’ life quality. Dan, welcome. Do you want to add anything to that?
Dan: eh, No Buddy ahh other than just sayin’ thank you for havin’ us on the show.
Buddy: Alright, great. We’re gonna have a go at this – Again, I’m gonna ask you – we’ll start out by Bernie answering first and then Dan answering first. Please keep your question answers to 60 seconds, no longer than 90, if necessary. I’m pulling something out of the file here..The 1st question starts out with: What will you do locally, specifically, to improve the moral of the MC Sheriff’s Dept? Mr. DeCastro….?
Bernie: Well, one of the things I would do would be to stop going around getting all of this window dressing, like ah all of these accrediting agencies… like for example the Governor’s Sterling Award. Under Sheriff Don Moreland, we had one of the finest Sheriff’s Offices in the state of Florida, and for the past 25 years well, since this administration has been in, they have done nothing but destroy the culture of excellence and integrity that Sheriff Moreland had developed. And, under Sheriff Moreland, we had one accrediting agency – the Calea. Now we have 6 or 7 accrediting agencies. The Gov’s Sterling Award in itself cost us over a million dollars in revenue just to implement that for no reason. We’re the only Sheriff’s office in the state of Florida that even cares about the Gov’s Sterling Award and not to mention all the lost time of all the officers – the high level staff, the majors, the chiefs of staff, the lieutenants the captains that were involved in that instead of focusing on public safety they were out there getting awards so that Ed Dean could look good. And, So, these are some of the things – we would focus on the deputies – on increasing their pay scale and focusing more on reducing all of the politics in the sheriff’s office of MC and focusing more on keeping the citizen’s in this county safe and treating our deputies a little bit more equitably.
Buddy: Ok, thank you Mr. DeCastro, that kept it under 90. Let’s go to that same question to Mr. Kuhn – What would you do locally, specifically to improve the moral of the MCSD?
Dan: uh, yeah there’s a variety of things um, a-as you as everybody who’s listening knows – it’s been a tough 4 or 5 years in the local economy. Um, prices have gone up on things that we buy at the store and salaries really haven’t kept pace with that. It’s been a tough time and that uh leads to a moral problem. Uh, one of the big things we can do to help with that is to make sure that the deputies understand that they’re appreciated – to make sure that we’re streamlining some of the things that they’re doin’ so that we take a little bit of uh uh things off their plate – uh, for example, I’m lookin’ to expand some of our volunteer programs to that some of the minor calls for service that tie up deputy time uh could be done by civilians uh and free them up to answer more calls for service – take some off of their plate. Uh, gonna work really hard to make sure that they recognize that they are appreciated for the work that they do and it’s great work uh I-I -I I can’t speak to uh a lack of cul- of a culture of excellence when we are uh twice the state wide average for crime clearance rate and our crime rate here in MC is half the state wide average and to put that in perspective the deputies are doin a great job. They are number one in the country – and, I’m sorry, in the state for —–
Buddy: Yeah, Well, I’m gonna have to stop you right there Dan – I’m sorry- we’re at 90 seconds – I apologize – We have to move on forward. You’ll be answering this question – once again this comes from our listeners…. The MC Sheriff’s office allows deputies to give out speeding tickets but will not yet let them/permit them to assist in auto accidents when in fact the Highway Patrol is understaffed for patrolling for these matters. If elected sheriff, how would you resolve this public safety matter or what would you do?
Dan: Well, uh, one of the reasons that uh our deputies do not work traffic crashes is because we already have an agency uh which is the Florida Highway Patrol that uh we pay taxes into to do that. Um, if if you look at it it’s been a tradition for years for the sheriff’s office to be primarily a crime fighting organization and not a traffic crash investigating organization. And, so, we so assist if there’s a public safety issue, we will assist and make sure that the folks are safe until the Florida Highway Patrol comes along but that’s really not our mission and not our function. uh, so, I don’t know that I’d change anything – I’d wanna make sure that we have time to be a crime fighting organization.
Buddy: Alright Dan, I’m sorry if I cut you off last time a little early- I didn’t know you had a timer back there. Let’s ask the same question to Mr. DeCastro – again, regarding the investigation of accidents, what would you do if you were elected sheriff?
Bernie: Well, that’s uh one of the areas where Dan and I differ. I would definitely change the policy on that because not to the detriment of crime fighting but I think that there are too often too many instances – I know of a couple right off hand – where there are people – where there are accidents – people are left by the wayside – people are hurting – the Highway Patrol cannot get there in time and because of this policy, the sheriff’s dept, the deputies don’t feel like they have to be there. I know of one instance where a woman got into an accident around 11:00, deputies came by- but because of this policy, they left her stranded by the side of the road and it wasn’t until 1:30 when the Highway Patrol came by. I mean, she stood there for 2 and a half hours in a dark road and a MC Sheriff’s officer just left her there stranded. I know of another accident that happened on HWY 42 where citizens had to actually get out in the middle of the road because they called the sheriff’s office and the sheriff’s office would not respond and they had to sit there and and do the part of the sheriff’s office or the Highway Patrol or law enforcement. That is a bad policy. That’s a policy that needs to be changed and I will change it under my administration.
Buddy: Ok… This is a debate between candidates for sheriff, Dan Kuhn – Undersheriff of the current Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Bernie DeCastro of the Constitution Dept. – uh – Constitution Party, excuse me. Gentlemen, we’ll shift gears here to something else and this time Bernie you’ll go first…. What’s your stand on DUI check points and traffic cameras?
Bernie: I’m against both and I’ll tell you why. Traffic cameras are an intrusion into our private lives/our privacy, they’re being used for things – they tell us everything is being sold to us under the guise of Public Safety. Uh, the Patriot Act was sold to us that way and now we’ve got the Dept. of Homeland Security – you can’t even fly anywhere without being felt up by TSA and on and on and on it goes. And so, we’ve got cameras on every corner watching us – these cameras can do alot more than watch people who run red lights by the way. Then, the uh DUI check points – a study was done in Berkley, CA in 2010. They discovered that 1,600 DUI check points had been conducted in California in 2009… 40 million dollars of revenue had been collected from the citizens in California for DUI check points, 30 million of which went to overtime for law enforcement officers, 24,000 vehicles had been confiscated from the citizens of CA – it’s right online, you can pull it up…so…as a result of all these check points, you know how many people were arrested? Less than 2 % of the people stopped were arrested. Now you tell me what it’s all about. It’s not about stopping people who are intoxicated – it’s about it’s another form of taxation on the American public.
Buddy: All right, Mr. Kuhn – if you’d respond to that.
Dan: Certainly! uuuh, we’ve had several opportunities to have traffic cameras – it’s been pitched to us. Currently, only the city of Dunnellon utilizes them. And uh, well it’s nowhere on the horizon for us. But I’ll tell you red light running is a danger and frankly we do not have enough deputies nor does the City of Ocala have enough people to sit at every street light and try to make sure people don’t run red lights. And that’s what it’s intent is It’s not intended to be a revenue producer – I will tell you this – DUI check points – um , we don’t make any money off of them – uh, the only money we make off of any citations goes into training it’s a few dollars per ticket that we can utilize for training but nothing for overhead. So, I’m not sure how they do it out in California but in Florida that’s not how it’s done uh I’m for anything that will protect the citizens and if we advertise in the public that we’re gonna have a DUI check point and it causes some people to think twice about drinkin’ and drivin’ then we’ve done our job.
Buddy: Alright Mr. Kuhn. Let’s go to issue of speed and neighborhoods. What will you do to improve the speed limits and enforce those speed limits in neighborhoods?
Dan: You mean actual law enforcement or to change the speed limits?
Buddy: I think probably both.
Dan: Well, the speed limits are either set by state law or by county commission depending on the circumstances. Uh, we already have a traffic unit that we put in place whenever we have issues or complaints from citizens. We do our very best to target those areas by sending the traffic unit to slow people down. Um, I, I do agree that there are alot of people who take advantage of our roadways and aggressive driving and fast driving and drunk driving needs to be stopped and I can tell you that that is a priority for us.
Buddy: Mr. DeCastro?
Bernie: Uh, I, I agree with uh the you know – it would be a priority for me as well. We don’t people speeding, especially in neighborhoods where you’ve got 35 mile an hour and you’ve got people doing 50. We don’t want that and we would want to do everything we can to stop that unfortunately people are gonna do things that they wanna do. Uh, we’re gonna do everything we can to make sure that that is not happening. So – But, uh, on another uh note, I’d just to add that uh before we get too far into this, that this whole race between Dan and I is about leadership – that’s really what it boils down to. And, uh, when questioned about leadership during the forums, uh, leadership and his personal achievements, Dan would always say, “It’s not about me”….Well, I beg to differ. It is about him. He’s asking the citizens of Marion County for their vote and for their trust and it is about him or me – which one is the better leader – and I’ve got 25 years of leadership experience where I started my own organization. Nobody gave me anything. Nobody made me the Undersheriff. Nobody did anything for me – I worked hard with perseverance and with leadership skills and I developed these things. And, I want to challenge Dan right now, on the air, to two one hour debates…..
Buddy: Alright – Mr. DeCastro…Mr. DeCastro….
Bernie: Yes –
Buddy: It is the wrong spot for that. You get a chance to re-butt and comment later on in the show…
Buddy: Right now we’re asking/answering questions
Buddy: Since you since you did that, I’m gonna go ahead and tell Dan he’s allowed to respond 30 seconds on what you just said…Dan go ahead – you’ve got 30 seconds to respond to that part about leadership.
Dan: Certainly. Well if uh he had been payin’ attention when I talked about it not being about me it’s that when somebody leads an organization, THEY SHOULD DO IT WITH A SERVANT’S HEART AND THEY SHOULDN’T MAKE EVERYTHING ABOUT THEMSELVES….. THEY SHOULDN’T DO IT WITH ARROGANCE OR UH PRIDE…..THEY SHOULD PUT THE PEOPLE WHO WORK WITH THEM AND FOR THEM AHEAD OF THEMSELVES. AND SO WHEN I SAY IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I MEAN.
Buddy: Alright now I’m gonna address this a little differently- I’m gonna give you each a personal question that would relate to you specifically and the other person doesn’t have to respond to it. Let me go back to..well, Dan since I’ve got you right now – Alot of people have said, including your rival candidate in your last primary that lawyers could be an asset or a liability. You have a law degree – How do you feel that that helps you in your job as Undersheriff and would help you as sheriff?
Dan: Well, I – I think that sometimes people forget that we are a law enforcement agency and it’s helpful to have somebody that understands the law. You know, as a prosecutor, that’s what I did – I took the cases that law enforcement made and did my very best to present them to the judge and jury and uh.. have a good resolution to the case. You have to understand what the law says. A – a- big reason is not only to make better cases but also to protect the public. You want to make sure that you have someone at the top of the organization that understands uh- the rights that the citizens have and the protections in place that are there to protect the citizens. Um, really, the Bill of Rights was designed uh not for government but to protect the citizens from government and so anytime we have an interpretation of those Bill of Rights I want to make sure that we are interpreting it in a way that benefits the citizens of Marion County.
Buddy: Alright, Mr. Decastro, you had a very impressive performance before the __________?______________of the Governor….You have quite a story about how you earned your pardon….. Tell how you got that pardon and also respond to people who wonder, He was pardoned…. How would he face hardened criminals?…. Would he be lenient on them? How would this pardon affect you in terms of your own decisions about hardened criminals that you would have to arrest and put in jail?
Bernie: Alright, the way you get a pardon is you petition the Governor and the cabinet after 10 years of a perfect, flawless record, which I did that from 1984 to 1994. Uh, how it would affect my performance with prisoners? I run, I’m the warden of a prison – a scaled down prison – a 132 bed prison. That’s what I do for a living. I work with offenders every day. In the last year, we’ve sent over 800 people cycled through our system and go back out into the streets and who now, the majority of them are law abiding, productive citizens. As far as people who want to continue to break the law, I send them back to prison just about every day in my organization. If they can’t live by the rules that we have in our re-entry center, they go back to prison. I don’t play any games. Listen, it’s all about public safety. It’s about keeping the public safe. I don’t have any bleeding heart, believe me. So, uh, anybody that thinks that I do, just come down to our center, I invite you to come down, take a look around, see what we do. But we send them back all the time – they go back to prison if they can’t live by the rules.
Buddy: Alright, we’re listening to a debate between the Republican nominee, Dan Kuhn and The Constitution Party nominee, Bernie DeCastro, here on The Voice of Ocala, 1370am, 96.7fm. One general off the wall question and then we’re gonna go to uh the rebuttal form of this and then if we have time we’ll give of you gentlemen each the chance to tell us why you would make the best sheriff. Bernie, you’ll go first with this one – If federal mandate came down to confiscate all firearms from citizens, would you comply as sheriff?
Bernie: Well, it’s not a very off the wall question Buddy when you think about what happened in Louisiana and Katrina when the sheriff, the chief of police and the mayor conspired to violate everybody in that precinct’s constitutional rights. They went through and they collected every firearm from law abiding citizens, so, it could very well happen here just like anywhere else and I would in no way tolerate that. I wouldn’t care if the federal government rolled up in here, if Obama himself rolled up in here – Nobody’s guns would get taken. Nobody’s constitutional rights would get violated. That’s why I’m running as the Constitutional sheriff as opposed to my opponent who’s running as an establishment sheriff.
Buddy: Alright, Mr. Kuhn, if you would respond to that same question.
Dan: Well, uh, I, I don’t, uh, hold to the premise that that’s likely to happen anytime soon, uh, but what I will say is this, that I will have been elected by the people of this county – I will have, uh, I’ve already taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and I would do that…I would protect the citizens rights here in Marion County. Now there are lots of ways to do that….there are ways to stand up uuuh to the federal government when you feel that they’re wrong, in error, and some of the is through diplomacy, some of that also might be through a law suit. Uh, but you can stand your ground without rattling sabers to uh take on the federal government. Uh, the reality is, as sheriff of Marion County, there is so much more than worrying about whether we’re gonna have to round up everybody’s guns. It’s about keeping peoples’ quality of life on a daily basis. Uh, but to make sure that nobody misunderstands my answer, no – I would never obey an order from the federal government that violated our citizens’ rights in that way.
Buddy: Alright, thank you. Gentlemen, this is the rebuttal part of our debate. Since Mr. DeCastro began first on the questions, Mr. Kuhn you’ll go first on rebutting any part of what your opponent has said, or, use that time to make your point and then we’ll go to Mr. DeCastro….. 90 seconds apiece gentlemen…. Mr. Kuhn, if you’ll start….
Dan: Certainly. I’d like to just set a couple things straight. I have no idea where a million dollars came from for the Governors Sterling Award …. uh…but I will say this: We are an accredited agency – we’re state and federally accredited in both corrections and law enforcement. Uh, we have been recognized as an excellent agency. Uh, there’s nowhere near a million dollars invested in that process um and, honestly, I’m of the good work that the men and women did to earn that. That’s not us patting ourselves on the back. Those are professional agencies from other places coming in and certifying that you, the citizens of Marion County, have a quality organization here. Uh, you know, it’s easy also on these traffic cases to pull out an isolated incident, but, I can tell you our deputies have huge hearts and if they see somebody in need on the side of the road, they’re gonna stop and help them. Uh, now whether they do the traffic crash report or not is a different matter. But we are gonna help people on the side of the road. Um and I would beg to differ…uuh, the, the program that uh, Mr. DeCastro runs is not a prison. It’s, it’s a re-entry center, a half-way house. It, uh, he doesn’t supervise prison guards, uh or uum, it’s not a high security facility like you have in a sworn facility. It… while I applaud him for what he does, and I DO believe that we need to have a, a better way to reintegrate folks who have been in prison back into society so that they don’t revictimize people. Um, I – I don’t think you can call what he does being the warden of a prison.
Buddy: Alright, thank you. Mr. DeCastro, your chance for rebuttal.
Bernie: Well, again, Dan doesn’t know his facts. We’re under contract with the Florida Department of Corrections…. uh, these are inmates, this is not a halfway house. It is a work release center with inmates that are still doing time who go back to prison when they violate my rules – That’s number one. Number two, uh the uh, what he said about a “servant’s heart” and this, that and the other, you know that’s, I’ve heard that time and time again and it’s just another lawyerly way of avoiding the question of : What have you done in terms of accomplishments and leadership. He’s done nothing. He graduated law school, tried to be a private attorney, he failed at that. Went to work for Brad King for five years, walked in his shadow for five years and has walked in Ed Dean’s shadow for seven years. He’s never led anything. I have – for 25 years I’ve been a leader and nobody ever gave me anything, so, I wanna make sure that we get that straight. By the way, uh, he said he would keep the uh, would not allow anybody from taking anybody’s arms. At the Tea Party, he was asked if he would take the Oath Keepers Oath and out of the three candidates, he was the only one who refused and the first part of that oath is that “I will not obey orders to disarm the American people, conduct warrantless searches of the American people, to impose martial law on the American people…”. I mean, who would not agree to those things….except for Dan Kuhn.
Buddy: Alright, thank you gentlemen, you have one minute a piece…You can tell us why you think you’d make the better sheriff. Mr. DeCastro, you start first.
Bernie: Thank you, Buddy. Again, because I know I have a checkered past, but for the past 28 years I’ve lived in this county. I’ve earned the respect of two governors. I’ve earned the respect of spiritual leaders all over this state, from Key West to Pensacola. I’ve earned the respect of business leaders around town, like C.L. Dinkins, Bill Ray and many, many others who have contributed to my organization. And, I’ve worked hard to accomplish all of those things. I love Marion County – it’s a great town, it’s a great county and I’m very concerned. Like I said, Sheriff Don Moreland was a personal friend of mine and I saw the culture he worked hard to develop and how it’s been so politicized because we’ve got a lawyer in office – Ed Dean , who all he’s concerned about is getting awards from accrediting agencies instead of using that time to protect the citizens of Marion County. I am not about all of that. I am about keeping the citizens of this county safe and running and having a good sheriff’s office.
Buddy: Alright, thank you. Alright, Mr. Kuhn you have one minute to tell us why you think you’d make the best sheriff.
Dan: Thank you Buddy. Um, you know, it’s it’s interesting to on and and uh have attacks against your your person and, and what you’ve done. But – uuh, I, I, I’ve been a leader at uh at every stage. I, I’ve been a leader in the community by serving on the Board of Directors of United Way and was a campaign chair and, and we raised 2 million for the for the poor in this community. I’ve been one of the chiefs of staff at the sheriff’s office since 2005 helping lead the men and women there and, and, for the last uh year, over a year I’ve been the Undersheriff leading the men and women at the MCSO. Uh, I’m proud of the work that, that uh, we do there as an organization, uuh, I believe that not only am I qualified because of my law degree, I’m also a sworn law enforcement officer, I, I, have attended and completed that and have studied at the highest level with the FBI National Academy. Uh, I’m ready to serve the people in this community, I care very much about it and I’ve illustrated that by how I’ve uuh produced over the last several years. Uuh, I’d be honored to be your sheriff.
Buddy: Alright, thank you…. Thanks Mr. Kuhn. Thanks Mr. DeCastro. You’ve been listening to a debate between candidates for sheriff – Bernie DeCastro, The Constitution Party….Dan Kuhn of the Republican Party on WOCA – “The Source”, 1370am – 96.7fm.