Interim Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri won his first election last night, trouncing former Sheriff Everett Rice. It put an end to a campaign that had turned personal between the two lawmen.
It was Gualtieri's maiden trip to the polls - he was appointed by former Sheriff Jim Coats after he resigned. And that didn't sit too well with Rice, who claimed during the campaign that Gualtieri had never earned his stripes. But the voters apparently didn't agree.
In his victory speech, Gualtieri told the crowd it was remarkable that he was far down in the polls when he first entered the race, but ended up well ahead of Rice, who was sheriff for 16 years before leaving for the state House of Representatives.
"It's been a long 15 months," Gualtieri said. "But the voters had a choice. And the choice was about the future or the past. Did you want to stay in yesteryear, or did you want to move forward to the future. And moving forward is what we need to do, and what we're going to do."