Election 2012

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Webb: Vows to rein in bloated budget

By Abdon Sidibe

Winn Webb said he hopes on Nov. 6 he can do a good imitation of Donald Trump on his show “The Apprentice” and tell Sheriff Jeff Dawsy, “You are fired.”

Webb, a Republican, is challenging the four-term incumbent Democrat and has made rising crime a key 

cornerstone of his campaign.

During a question-and-answer session before the Chronicle Editorial Board this week, Webb outlined his plans to rein in rising crime and also accused the sheriff of blocking his rise during his tenure with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).

Webb estimates he had been with CCSO for roughly 17 years — all as a deputy — culminating in 2006 when he resigned. He was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2008.

Sheriff Dawsy has called Webb unprepared for the job because of his lack of management experience and higher education. Webb is a high school graduate.

Before the editorial board Wednesday, Webb claimed that in the 1996 elections when Dawsy first ran for office, he (Webb) supported Republican Henry “Hootie” Wilkins. Wilkins eventually lost in the GOP primaries to Chris Polak, who faced and lost to Dawsy that fall.

But, Webb said that decision cost him promotions within CCSO.

During the session, Webb also spoke about his plans to rein in what he considers Dawsy’s bloated budget and the rising crime rate.

He said he would eliminate the more-than-40 vehicles currently being driven home by non-sworn officers, ground the helicopters unless it was essential they fly and get rid of the fixed-wing aircraft.

Webb said he would also set up a pyramid-style organizational structure, unlike what he calls the “mushroom cloud” structure currently in place at CCSO.

He said Citrus County has seven captains when Marion County, which is much larger than this county, has only four captains and “one of those is in charge of the jail.”

Webb said to fight crime he would eliminate pressure on deputies by jettisoning what he said used to be called quotas — that is when officers are required to meet a certain number of service calls and arrests.

“This would free them to spend more time trying to catch the real bad guys,” he said.

He would also focus more on training for deputies in the areas of people and interrogation skills.

He lamented the burglary/recovery ratios of the agency, saying more burglaries have been happening recently, but fewer things are being recovered. He vowed to apply more resources to the streets to fight crime and mocked Dawsy’s emphasis on college educational attainment to become sheriff.

“Is it keeping crime down or is crime going up in Citrus County?”

Chronicle reporter A.B. Sidibe can be reached at 352-564-2925 or asidibe@chronicleonline.com.