It's not every day you here about a sheriff who puts his gun and badge away to become a state politician. But for Sheriff John McDaniel of Jackson County, joining Florida's political ranks is a calling the he feels he must follow.
Sheriff McDaniel has served the people of Jackson County Florida for almost 28 years, but on Tuesday, McDaniel told his staff, who he calls family, that he would not seek re-election. Instead he plans to run for the house seat for District 5; a seat currently held by Representative Don Brown.
"I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat and I'm not and Independent. What I am is someone who would be looking for ways to serve the people of the district I would be serving in," said Sheriff McDaniel.
"The past several months have been very chaotic for Sheriff McDaniel, as he has had to deal with the loss of his wife and a fellow deputy who were shot and killed in front of his house. Now Sheriff McDaniel says entering the political arena will help him move on and do what he does best.
"I need to be able to do things for other people. By getting involved and doing things for other people, I can forget about my problems," said McDaniel.
In doing so, Sheriff McDaniel plans to tackle a slew of issues including required rehab for drug offenders, and state funded help for people with mental disabilities.
"We have to wait until they commit a crime before we can do anything with them. Then we pick them up and put them in jail and we don't have any facility that we can put them in to get treatment and so forth," said McDaniel.
Then there's education, which is an issue close to McDaniel's heart. Currently the state of Florida uses the FCAT test to gauge student performance in school, but Sheriff McDaniel says he doesn’t feel that the FCAT should measure a student’s level of education. McDaniel also plans to promote more vocational training in Florida's high schools to prepare students for real-world jobs.
For now Sheriff McDaniel will focus on his current task; the task of protecting Jackson County residents against criminals; a task he says he has loved doing for almost three decades.
Sheriff McDaniel has not yet announced his run for office and he wants everyone to know that he does not intend to do any kind of campaigning throughout the remainder of his time as sheriff. That’s because he says he has a job to do, and that he will do that job until he steps down from his post.
No word yet on when Sheriff McDaniel will publicly announce his candidacy, but an official announcement is expected later this year.