Fort Myers News-Press
2020: Election Day in Florida
Here’s a look in Florida as of Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Lee County voters handed Carmine Marceno a decisive victory in Tuesday’s race for who will lead its sheriff’s office for the next four years.
Marceno received 67% of the 368,531 votes counted with 125 of 127 precincts reporting, defeating Democratic challenger Robert Neeld and no-party affiliated candidates Carmen McKinney and Michael “Coach Ray” Qualls.
Neeld, an accountant by day, finished second, racking up 102,203 votes, or 27.7%.
Qualls, a former law enforcement officer and current life coach, and McKinney, a former major at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, finished third and fourth, earning 2.71% and 2.52% respectively.
Marceno, who was appointed as sheriff two years ago by then-Gov. Rick Scott after Sheriff Mike Scott resigned, nearly equaled his impressive performance in the primary election, when Marceno defeated his opponent Jim Leavens by a 69-31% margin.
In the leadup to the primary, Marceno said he was running on his record.
On a list of accomplishments provided to the News-Press, he highlighted increasing the number of patrol deputies and their pay, renegotiating contracts to save money and building the agency’s Real Time Intelligence Center.
During his tenure in charge, the agency has reduced crime. In the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s annual report released in April, Lee County’s crime rate dropped by 18.4% despite growing in population size.
The agency’s school resource officer program was also named no. 1 in the state by the Florida Association of School Resource Officers.
Previous coverage: Three underdogs are vying to upset Carmine Marceno
More recently, the agency has also opened up four Community Outreach Centers including one at the Edison Mall last week.
Marceno was able to raise nearly five times more than all of his opponents combined. The $602,550.39 in donations he received was nearly half a million more than Leavens, who raised $107,951.40 in defeat in the primary.
While Marceno provided a long list of accomplishments during his two years in charge, he was also the subject of multiple complaints to the Florida Department of Law and the Florida Commission on Ethics.
Thus far, none of the complaints have found sufficient evidence or wrongdoing, including in July when the ethics commission dismissed accusations that Marceno misused his position to enter into a sexual relationship with a crime victim.
“I’m gratified, but not surprised that I have been completely exonerated and that these foolish, politically motivated accusations have been proven false,” Marceno said of the commission’s findings in July. “Unfair attacks come with my job, but they have not, and will not distract me from my primary focus, the safety and security of the residents of Lee County”.