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Crestview Mayor's Race Focuses On Crime

In Okaloosa County, early voting is underway for the March 10th municipal elections. In Crestview, the race is on for the mayor’s seat. 

The four candidates are incumbent David Cadle, Landrum Edwards, Tom Gordon, and Jeremiah Hubbard. Each of them recently took part in a candidate forum on Crestview Community Television.

The hot button issue at the forum was whether there’s a crime problem in the city and what should be done about it.

Tom Gordon has been tackling the issue as a member of the Crestview City Council, "Why is it that FWB, Niceville, Shalimar, and Valparaiso reported in 2013, 80 violent crimes? Those cities combined is 75% larger than Crestview, and yet we have more than double the violent crime in our community"

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime statistics, there were 180 violent crimes in Crestview in 2013.  Jeremiah Hubbard, who was born and raised in the town of Baker, suggests the larger number of criminal offenses could be rooted in poverty, " When you have an increase in poverty, you have an increase in crime as well. When you reduce poverty, you reduce crime. So there’s many area’s that we actually need to address other than just police department and the administrations. We need to address this as a community."

"The problem that we had was we had crooks in the police department. Nobody had the gall to bring them to justice. When we have stuff like that how can we have report with the people of Crestview? "

That’s Landrum Edwards, more commonly known as Lanny, a local business owner and President of the Enforcement Board.

Edwards is referring to the 2012 scandal that ran rampant throughout the Street Crime Unit and tarnished the Crestview Police Department’s reputation.

As the sitting Mayor, incumbent David Cadle had to deal with the scandal, which centered on the department’s top cops, Maj. Joseph Floyd and then Police Chief Brian Mitchell, " If you remember we were the target of an intense investigation by the state attorney’s office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for possible racketeering and official misconduct by the chief and his second in command. That evidence became sworn testimony later on, which was never refuted or challenged. When I received all the information from the investigation, it was overwhelming and I terminated both Mitchell and Floyd."

Mayor Cadle is a retired music educator who was first elected in 2007. He says, because of the scandal, he was tasked with rebuilding the trust in the department and believes he has done so with the hiring of new Police Chief Tony Taylor and other measures, "Among the strategies that we have established includes a Citizens Public Safety Academy, K-9 teams, increased patrols, established a drug enforcement taskforce, and closer cooperation between the judicial system and the police community and these changes have helped to make the Crestview Police Department a more competitive place for officer recruitment."

When it comes to addressing the issue of crime in Crestview, challenger Lanny Edwards says the success of the city hinges on the backing of its residents, " If we get the people that will support it, crime rate in Crestview will go down. With the citizen’s help, not just the police riding around, the citizens have to help. And I’d appreciate anybody that would say I will participate. But, when you get people that will not participate then you bring up an issue with police. The police aren’t doing their job. Police cannot do it by themselves. So, if people will get out and work with the police we will have the best citizens, the best police department, and people will love to live in Crestview again."

Hubbard echoes Edwards’ sentiment that it’s important for the citizens to be involved in the community. But, he adds there are other factors of crime that need to be considered as well, "Where do the criminals after they’re arrested, how many are repeated offenders because the justice system failed. How many of those happened because the probation officers have not accurately tracked these that have been released. These are things we need to look at before we decide and determine hard core facts that there’s a crime problem in Crestview."

For Tom Gordon, who owns several businesses in the area and has sat on the city council since 2012, it’s clear that there’s a problem, "We live in this community, our community has gone downhill."

Gordon says he’s concerned about the city’s reputation and what the long-term impact could be on the ability to attract new residents and businesses, "When you type in your search engine Is Crestview a safe place to live? Crestview’s rated twelve. Twelve out of a hundred, twelve percent safer than other cities in the United States.  So you want to bring a career here? You want to bring Boeing here, Remington, Airbus? And mama and daddy get on the internet and they search how safe is Crestview, would you come? Does it sound safe to you?"

Tom Gordon, incumbent David Cadle, Lanny Edwards, and Jeremiah Hubbard are in the running for Mayor of Crestview. There’s still time to vote early before Election Day, Tuesday, March 10th. More information on the candidates go to Crestview Community Television at cvctv.info and info on casting your ballot is available at govoteokaloosa. com.