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Retired Lee County Sheriff's Major says he's motivated to lead as Sheriff

Posted at 8:24 AM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 09:08:16-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Fox 4 is committed to helping you and your family get to know the local candidates running for office. In the days leading up to the August 18th Primary, we are talking with local candidates each day, to help you see what issues are most important to them.

Meet your local candidate Jim Leavens running for the Lee County Sheriff seat.

The winner of the GOP primary between Leavens and Marceno this month will go onto the November general election where he'll face other opponents who have qualified for the ballot. According to Lee County Elections office records, hey include Democrat Robert Neeld and two candidates with no party affiliation - Coach Ray and Carmen McKinney.

Through his campaign manager, Marceno declined to be part of our candidate interviews.

WFTX visited with Leavens at his family's property in North Fort Myers for a "cup with the candidate."

Here's the transcript from the first part of our conversation:

WFTX: So what's in your cup?

RET. MAJ. JIM LEAVENS/(R) LEE CO./ SHERIFF CANDIDATE: Iced tea, sweet tea.

WFTX: So a little bit of sugar?

RET. MAJ. JIM LEAVENS/(R) LEE CO./ SHERIFF CANDIDATE: Yes, except when my sister-in-law makes it.

WFTX: So is that what keeps you going? Because that's what campaigning requires, right? At least a caffeinated attitude?

RET. MAJ. JIM LEAVENS/(R) LEE CO./ SHERIFF CANDIDATE: Motivation keeps me going, but yes, I drink Mountain Dew - diet Mountain Dew - during the day, but a lot of people keep talking about how strenuous campaigning is. And I've loved every minute of it. I truly have. I love going out and have been talking to people about what I'm very passionate about - something I really love. I've been enjoying it. I really have.

WFTX: What is that passion? What does it all come down to for you?

RET. MAJ. JIM LEAVENS/(R) LEE CO./ SHERIFF CANDIDATE: 30 years all with the Lee County Sheriff's office. Started in Corrections - worked my way through. Know the inside of the agency from one side to the next, know the people, know where they're strengths are where they're weaknesses are. And putting them in the right spots.

RET. MAJ. JIM LEAVENS/(R) LEE CO. SHERIFF CANDIDATE: Check out my website, LeavensForLee.com. My endorsements are from people that have done the job from past Sheriffs, from Chiefs, Captains, and Majors - that have done the job for 20 and 30 years. They know what it takes. And they say I've got what it takes.

RET. MAJ. JIM LEAVENS: We've got 4 kids 3 grandchildren. We're family-oriented. We support Trump 100%. And I'm the only Republican candidate that is Pro-Life.

WFTX: What do you think the Lee County Sheriff’s Office needs to keep people safe that you don’t think is there right now?

RET. MAJ. JIM LEAVENS/(R) LEE COUNTY SHERIFF CANDIDATE: They need more contact with the public. Community policing is a great program. They need to get more officers out there doing community policing. The only way to do that is by downsizing the top part of the agency. We’re way too top-heavy. For every position you eliminate upstairs, you can put three people on the road. Being proactive is the only way to combat crime in Lee county. Because crime is fluid and so you need the manpower to be proactive.

WFTX: What do you think is at stake in this election?

RET. MAJ. JIM LEAVENS/(R) LEE CO. SHERIFF CANDIDATE: It’s just like the presidential election. There is a lot at stake. The temporarily appointed sheriff that’s in there now, like I said, wasn’t elected. He’s made so many mistakes in the last year and a half that he’s been there. And the thought... if he’s gets elected, that’s 4 years that we would have to deal with this many more mistakes.

RET. MAJOR JIM LEAVENS/(R) LEE. CO. SHERIFF CANDIDATE: We’ve gone to a number of debates. He’s been set up for 5 or 6 debate - no shows. He either cancels at the last minute declines or doesn’t show. He’s running a Biden campaign right now from the basement. And it’s a shame because the public should have the right to have him and me on a stage and see who has what I take to be sheriff. And my experience right off the bat tells you I’ve got what it takes. He is seriously lacking.

FULL INTERVIEW

Key Dates and Deadlines in Florida

Tues, Nov. 3: In-Person Voting
Fri, Nov. 13: Absentee/Mail-In Delivered By Date