Welcome to the show: Get to know the Republican candidates for sheriff — so far

In the online interviews, readers can get to know the candidates on their own terms and hopefully feel more encouraged to vote in 2016.
By: 
Sep. 15, 2015

How do you decide who you'll vote for? The questionnaires, the forums, the booths at events — they can all give you some exposure to the candidates, but wouldn't it be best if everyone could sit down one-on-one with each candidate and get to know them, and hear their life story in their own terms?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve embarked on a project through my online blog, Flagler PolitiBlog, on palmcoastobserver.com: interviewing the five Republican candidates (so far) who have filed to run for sheriff in 2016.

The goal of this project is to give the readers an impression of what it might be like to sit down with each candidate for an hour or two.

Last week, I finally finished the interviews and have now published the stories of the first three: interviews with Jerry O’Gara, John Lamb and Donald Fleming. Still to come: stories about the interviews with Mark Whisenant and Rick Staly. You can read the first three by clicking on the hyperlinks to their names in this paragraph.

It’s been interesting to see that the candidates have become increasingly aware of this little project. John Lamb had read the story on O’Gara before I arrived for the Lamb interview. Fleming had read the stories on O’Gara and Lamb before I arrived for his interview.

The interviews are generally positive. Again, they’re on the candidates’ own terms. Each candidate presents himself in a positive light, as if they’re on a job interview and they’re explaining why their credentials make him the best man for the job.

When I interviewed Fleming, he indicated that he had already discussed the previous stories with his campaign supporters.

“A couple guys said this, ‘Is Brian going to bring you some flowers?’” Fleming said with a grin. Later, speaking about his own forthcoming profile, he said, “Try not to make it too flowery.”

Why do this now, a year before the primary? Hopefully, the readers will become aware of the candidates now, rather than waiting until the weeks leading up to the primary. The interviews are long and won't ever appear in their entirety in print, although I'm planning to publish their photos and a short excerpt when the project is complete in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll take time to read these interviews online and stay tuned in the next week or two as the Whisenant and Staly interviews are added, rounding out the five Republicans who have filed so far to challenge incumbent Sheriff Jim Manfre, who has not yet officially filed to run.

Do you have ideas for what stories we should write about the candidates or their campaigns? Email me at editor@palmcoastobserver.com.