Sheriff Jerry Demings makes Orange County mayoral run official

By Christie Zizo, Digital Media Producer
Last Updated: Friday, July 07, 2017, 6:25 PM EDT

Surrounded by friends, family and local politicians, Sheriff Jerry Demings made the news official Friday: He's running for Orange County mayor.

  • Sheriff Jerry Demings announced mayoral run
  • Says platform will be on public safety, smart growth, community bonding
  • Will continue to be sheriff while he campaigns

"After much prayer and deliberation, and with the support of my family, I'm excited to announce my candidacy for Orange County mayor during the 2018 election cycle," Demings said. 

Wife Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando, introduced her husband at a news conference Friday, where the power couple formally made the announcement.

"I'm standing here today as the son of a maid and a taxicab driver, as well as the great-great grandson of slaves," Demings said of his 95-year-old parents, who watched the announcement at home. "I say thank you for teaching me to defy the odds."

Demings says he is running on a platform that focuses on smart growth, community bonding and, not surprisingly, public safety. 

"In the area of public safety, you can expect me to lead from the front, and strengthen relationships with public safety officials and first responders throughout our county, region and state," Demings said. "We will work with the unions to ensure that public safety workers are paid a competitive wage and have training, equipment, facilities and resources required to make our community safer." 

Demings says if he wins he will work to help established businesses expand, while working with trade groups to bring in new companies that pay a living wage. He also wants to streamline the county's permitting processes for developments. 

Demings also promised to work with communities that want to keep their "rural character," a nod to areas like east Orange County, where residents fought developments and even replaced a county commissioner with one who supported their goals. 

That new commissioner, Emily Bonilla, was at Demings' announcement. 

He then promised to also help revitalize areas dealing with "urban blight."

Demings is the first African-American to run for the position. "I'm proud of what it signifies that today our community has progressed to the point that one can be considered a serious candidate to hold the office of chief executive of Orange County, regardless of their race, gender or ethnic origin," Demings said.

Demings says he will continue to serve as sheriff while he campaigns for mayor. 

Current Mayor Teresa Jacobs is term-limited. Other mayoral candidates including Jose Colom and Robert Melanson.

The election is scheduled for November 6, 2018. The county mayoral position is a non-partisan one. 

Demings is currently serving his third term as Orange County sheriff. Before that he was the county's public safety officer. He was also an Orlando police officer and the first black police chief for Orlando Police Dept.