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2019 DeFuniak Municipal E-Voter2019 DeFuniak Springs City Marshal

Welcome

The DeFuniak Springs City Marshal serves as the Chief of Police. DeFuniak Springs has one of only two City Marshals in Florida, along with eleven other elected Chiefs of Police in the state. There is a three-way race for City Marshal this year, as Donald Graham and James Hurley are challenging incumbent City Marshal Mark Weeks, who is seeking his third term. Links are provided to each candidate’s campaign or Facebook campaign websites, if available, as well as to the Candidate Statements provided to the Walton County Supervisor of Elections, if applicable.

Candidates for City Marshal
  Donald Graham
Donald L. Graham
Facebook Page
James Hurley
James W. Hurley, Jr.
Facebook Page
Mark Weeks
Mark A. Weeks
Candidate Statement

What do you see as the top issues affecting DeFuniak Springs in the next four years?

A top issue affecting DeFuniak Springs is growth explosion, and with growth comes more opportunity for Police patrol and presence. As the new Chief of Police, I will make sure we have professional and a well-managed Police Department as well as Police Officers. Under my administration the DeFuniak Springs Police Department will be run as a customer service to the people of DeFuniak Springs. Also, I will make sure we have a diverse staff with female officers and more people of color to go out and handle diverse cultures in our growing community. 

With the push for economic development, the police department must participate in this process to make our city more appealing to new businesses moving in.

Drug Enforcement.
Currently our City has a large substance abuse problem that is not being addressed. I have personally spoken to a businessman who did not choose a certain location for a convenience store due to seeing a large amount of narcotic transactions occurring in the parking lot and surrounding area.

Transient, Homeless population.
If you travel our city streets and neighborhoods, you may have noticed an increase in the transient, homeless population. Most of these folks are not from our town, but take up residence in the Lakeyard and nearby woods. Unfortunately, some of these people also commit crimes in order to survive. If elected, I will work with organizations to get these folks the services they need and off our streets, making DeFuniak Springs a safer city for all.

Wrongful terminations and high turnover of Police Department employees causing wasted tax dollars.
Since 2009, 56 officers and employees have resigned from the DeFuniak Springs Police Department. There have also been 3 officers who were found to be wrongfully terminated. A total of $400,000 has been paid to resolve those wrongful terminations. These settlements, plus the growing cost to constantly hire and re-train new officers, is ultimately passed on to you, the taxpayer. If you want fair, responsible management, choose me on April 9th.

Community wide, I believe our top issues are dealing with growth, keeping up with infrastructure and creating new jobs. From a public safety standpoint, with growth comes more calls and added responsibilities for our police department. I will meet the demand by using my 24 years of law enforcement experience and leadership to advance officer training, raise standards, and increase efficiency within our police department.

Why do you want to serve as DeFuniak Springs City Marshal, and why are you the best choice?

What makes me the best choice is my 30 years of Law Enforcement, Security Executive, and Business Management experience. Under my administration I will be proactive with the residents of DeFuniak Springs. I’m a people’s person and will be a People’s Chief 24/7. I will always put DeFuniak Springs first at everything I do as a citizen and as your new Chief of Police. I have plans to sit on the community boards of all the Athletic programs here in DeFuniak Springs and of Walton County. I have volunteered for the Walton County Athletic Basketball League for the last two years. As Chief of Police I can bring a business atmosphere at the police department that would make the DeFuniak Springs residents safer and not cause a burden on DeFuniak Springs taxpayers. I am a voice for the forgotten citizens who never get their concerns rectified. I believe it is time for a change as the city grows and becomes a more diverse community, I relate to all cultures and can get the job done.

I want to serve as your City Marshal because I care about you and our town.

While visiting residents in our community, many have expressed concern about not knowing the officers who patrol their streets. Some said they do not even know who the police chief is. If you don’t know who your elected officials are, how can you talk you them about the job they are doing? If you elect me as your police chief, the officers and I will be visible every day in the community, not just during election time when asking for a vote. I have the experience and leadership needed to make the DeFuniak Springs Police Department a top Law Enforcement Agency in our area.

I have been elected City Marshal of DeFuniak Springs three times, proudly serving my hometown since 2009. I want to continue serving because I love my job and community.

My 24 years of law enforcement experience, education, local insight and 13-year (10 of those elected) record of service to our police department and community make me the best choice.

I began my law enforcement career patrolling our roadways before earning positions of leadership where I gained valuable experience managing a law enforcement agency, leading its staff, and administering large budgets and taxpayer funds.

Over the past four years, my strategic plan to crush crime has resulted in a 61% decrease in the total crime rate and the lowest crime rate in at least 19 years or more.

I am a fiscal conservative and have saved and returned more than $950,000 to the city in unspent funds from my annual budgets over the past 10 years.

I have earned a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

If elected/re-elected, what is your top priority for your term?

To name a few of my top priorities, I will keep children and elderly residents safe; train Officers to be courteous and respectful at all times; and cut cost of lawsuits and reduce liability that causes burdens on residents of DeFuniak Springs. My administration will crack down on the increasing problem of soliciting and panhandling of our local stores. We will remove them and try to find help for people, whether its employment or housing. A drug task force will work with local hospitals and mental health agencies to setup a plan to crack down on the city’s growing drug epidemic. During school hours my patrol officers will be highly visible in all parking lots and assisting the school resource officers. During down time my patrol officers will sit in the local schools parking lots to complete their reports, because visibility is a major crime deterrent. Currently we have 19 Police Officers employed for the City of DeFuniak Springs, but out of the 19 only 4 live in DeFuniak Springs. Under my administration I will implement a 5-mile radius policy, which means DeFuniak Springs Police Officers can not drive any patrol cars outside of the 5-mile radius of the city limits. This will include Supervisors, under-cover patrolman, etc. Response time to emergency is very critical under Donald L Graham’s administration. Positioning and being in the right place will always be necessary while fulfilling my duties as the DeFuniak Springs Chief of Police.

I want to make DeFuniak Springs First!

Narcotics enforcement will be my top priority. Four years ago I warned that, if we did not make a change with our narcotics enforcement, it would only get worse. Since then hypodermic needles have been found floating in Lake DeFuniak, on city streets and vacant houses on Circle Drive. We must do better! We have not had serious narcotic enforcement by our City Police Department in 8–10 years. I have had several businesses pledge to purchase a K-9 at no cost to the city, because they are tired of their customers being harassed and panhandled by drug users.

Busting meth dealers and eradicating meth from DeFuniak Springs.

Operation Eradicate Meth is my mission to rid DeFuniak Springs of methamphetamine. With meth becoming an epidemic in small towns across the South, I won’t rest until we have locked up the meth dealers and eradicated meth from our community.

Experienced leadership is crucial to success. I have spent 24 years successfully fighting crime and protecting families from drugs and the people who sell them.

What are your qualifications for office?

• 1986 State of Florida Police graduate
• 10 years’ experience working as a Police Officer
• Owner and Operator of Florida State Certified Security and Investigation firm for the last 23 years
• 15 years of community activist work in DeFuniak Springs, Florida
• Florida Notary
• Reorganized Pro Baseball in 2007 to current in the DeFuniak Springs area
• Youth Basketball Coach for the Walton County Athletic Association
• CEO of DeFuniak Springs May Day 2008–2017

• DeFuniak Springs Native
• 15 year law enforcement veteran – Special Agent with the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco, former Walton County Deputy Sheriff
• Graduate of The Florida State University School of Criminology – BS
• Law Enforcement High Liability Instructor
• State Law Enforcement officer of the Year of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco
• Deacon for First Baptist Church DeFuniak Springs

• City Marshal, DeFuniak Springs Police Department, April 2009–Present
• Supervisor in charge of the DeFuniak Springs Police Department, January 2009–April 2009
• Assistant City Marshal, DeFuniak Springs Police Department, 2006–2009
• Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, numerous duties including Traffic Homicide Investigator, 1994–2005
• Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary Trooper, 1993–1994
• Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice, University of Central Florida, 2001
• Participant in overseas criminal justice Master’s studies, 2001
• Bachelor’s Degree in History with a minor in Criminology, Florida State University, 1993
• 2,000+ hours of specialized law enforcement training
• Graduate of Okaloosa Walton Community College, 1991
• Graduate of Walton Senior High School, 1987
• Certified Chief Executive, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 2010
• Certified in Managing the Accreditation Process, Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, 2007
• Graduate of Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) Management Fellows Program, 2004
• Certified in Supervisory Management, Florida State University Certified Public Managers Program, 2004
• Graduate of Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy/Law Enforcement Certification, 1995
• Graduate of Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary Academy, 1993
• Division of Driver Licenses (DHSMV), Examiner Aide, 1991–1994 (while a student at FSU)


 

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