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Lee County Sheriff Races: Republican Primary and General Election candidates

By Staff | Jul 1, 2020

The Lee County Sheriff’s race appears on both the Aug. 18 Primary and Nov. 3 General Election ballots

The Republican primary has two candidates, incumbent Carmine Marceno and James A. Leavens, a major and watch commander with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at the time of his retirement. The top vote-getter will then advance to the General Election where there will be three additional candidates on the ballot: Coach Ray, NPA; Carmen McKinney, NPA, and Robert Neeld, Democrat.

Republican Primary – Candidate Bios*

Candidate name: Jim Leavens

Seat sought/district: Sheriff, Lee County

Party: Republican

Age: 57


Correctional Officer, 32nd Class SWFL Public Service Academy, Fort Myers,

Law Enforcement Officer, 65th Class SWFL Public Service Academy, Fort Myers

100-plus Law Enforcement Related Courses (over 4000 hours) to Include Police Internal Affairs, Crisis Intervention, Line Supervision, Asset Forfeiture, etc.

Occupation and place of employment: Lee County Sheriff’s Office, April 1988 March 2018

Years of residency in Lee County:36 years in South Florida (Cape Coral and Punta Gorda)

Business or professional experience applicable to the office you are seeking:

I held Captain’s rank for over 14 years. My duties entailed the supervision of sworn and civilian personnel, to include Commander of Internal Affairs, Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC), East District Substation, Major Crimes (Homicide, Crimes Against Persons, Domestic Violence, et.al.), as well as the acquisition and administration of multi-million dollar budgets and equipment related to these Divisions.

My final position was that of a nighttime watch commander. This is the highest-ranking member of the agency between the hours of 5 p.m. 5 a.m. Meaning, that I supervised all sworn and civilian personnel between those hours.

I worked through the ranks beginning as a Corrections Officer, Road Patrol and Detective assigned to Property Crimes, Narcotics, Robbery and Homicide. Sergeant and Lieutenant in Road Patrol, Internal Affairs and Criminal Investigative Capacities.

Political Experience/offices held: n/a

Civic/Community involvement: Life Church member

Family: Married to my wife, Angela for over 25 years. Together we have 4 children and 2 grandchildren – with one on the way!

Military Experience: n/a

Website: Leavensforlee.com

Candidate positions at a glance

Why are you running?

Over 20 years of my career was in a supervisory role, 14 as a Captain. As a commander, you have the advantage of a unique perspective as you watch things run. I began to develop ideas for how things would run more smoothly: identifying budgeting successes and shortfalls, training solutions, and creative ways of maximizing manpower and achieving proactive policing. The thought of being able to implement these ideas is exciting!

Planks of your platform:

Anti-Human Tracking Initiative

Special Response Team for de-escalation of emotionally charged calls

Task Force for Opioid Crisis

Integrity and Ethical Steadfastness

Proactive Policing

Adequate Staffing

(Increased) Shooter Scenario Training

Realignment of Resources

A Promise of Fiscal Responsibility

Top three issues:

The first task as Sheriff is an increase of Road Patrol. Lee County is tied at third-to-last for deputies per capita in the state of Florida (64 out of 67 counties).* The renewal of Project Lifesaver, and a Special Response Team that are trained to deescalate emotionally charged calls for service are among my top priorities.

*Data available upon request

Candidate name: Carmine Marceno, incumbent

Seat sought: Lee County Sheriff

Party: Republican

Age: 48


2017 Graduate of the FBI National Academy Sessions 267

Undersheriff for now retired Sheriff Mike Scott responsible for the day to day operations of the agency.

Law enforcement officer for 20 plus years

Occupation and place of employment: Lee County Sheriff

Years of residency in Lee County: since 2013

Business or professional experience applicable to the office you are seeking:

Currently serving as your Lee County Sheriff. Responsible to the citizens of Lee County for the following budget, personnel and bureau operations:

Budget: $196,713,441

Personnel: 1,626 positions of which 1,117 are certified personal with Law Enforcement, corrections and Court Services.

Bureau Services:


*Professional Standards

*Support Services


*Court Operations

*Criminal Investigations


Undersheriff for now retired Sheriff Mike Scott responsible for the day to day operations of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

2019 “Outstanding Law Enforcement Executive” and acknowledgement & award from the Southwest Florida Police Chief’s Association

Political Experience/offices held: Lee County Sheriff

Civic/Community involvement: Please see Sheriff of Lee County Web-site: www.Sheriffleefl.org, Campaign Web-site: www.carmineforsheriff.com

Family: single

Military Experience: none

Website: www.carmineforsheriff.com

Candidate positions at a glance:

Why are you running?

* To Protect and Serve: by continuing as your Lee County Sheriff providing safety and security for our citizen’s, families, businesses and visitors of Lee County.

* To keep Lee County and SWFLA having one of the lowest crime rates compared to the 67 counties in the State of Florida (2019 Annual Uniform Crime Report) .

* To continue building interagency relationships with law enforcement agencies, first responders, business, educational and citizen leadership to collectively keep Lee County a thriving paradise.

Planks of your platform:

* Safe Kids Safe Schools: working hand in hand with the Lee County School System to keep our children safe and in safe learning environments. Placing school resource officers in each school.

* Holding Career Criminals Accountable: working together with the State Attorney to hold repeat offenders accountable through a focused and enhanced investigative and prosecutorial process and task force participation.

* Opioid Crisis (focus and management): The Lee County Sheriff Office has made the elimination of drugs and drug dealers a priority in our communities and will continue to work collaboratively with local, state and federal law enforcement to seek enhanced penalties for drug dealers.

* Animal Abuse and Cruelty: “zero tolerance for animal abuse”. Diligently investigating animal abuse cases and by working directly with Lee County Domestic Animal Services. The “Deputy Dogs” program has had a profound effect on promoting information and education on the zero tolerance stance.

* Community Outreach: Community patrols are increased when and where needed.

The LCSO Community Response Unit additionally provides crime prevention education, training and partnerships.

Active Shooter training

Residential security education

Personal safety courses

Self-defense classes for women

Fraud, scams and identification theft education

Driver safety programs

BizWatch a partnership between Lee County businesses and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office teaching participants how to improve security measures, explaining the importance of quickly reporting suspicious activity and establishing communication regarding crime trends and relevant security information.

* Law enforcement Collaboration: ongoing engagement with local law enforcement agencies, State Attorney, Lee County Commission and School Board to ensure ongoing effectiveness in our collective safety and accountability efforts.

* Enhanced Media Relationships & Transparency: The Public Information office of the Lee County Sheriff has been enhanced to provide more availability and response time to the public.

* Technology Driven Outcomes: The Lee County Sheriffs office continues to be a statewide leader in our efforts to incorporate crime fighting and safety management through technology and data driven allocations of resources and staff.

* * *

General Election – winner of the Republican primary will advance to the Nov. 3 General Election and face the following candidates:

Candidate name: Carmen L. McKinney

Seat sought: Sheriff Lee County

Party: NPA

Age: 68


A.S. in Aeronautical Technology (University of New Haven, West Haven, CT B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration (University of New Haven, West Haven, CT

Master of Education (Florida Gulf Coast University), Fort Myers

Occupation and place of employment:

Retired Lee County Sheriff Office Rank of Major

Years of residency in Lee County: 39 years

Business or professional experience applicable to the office you are seeking:

Groton City Police, Groton, Connecticut (1974-1981) Served seven years with the Groton City Police, Groton, Connecticut. Served in Patrol Division, Detective Division, Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) Unit. Held supervisory positions as Acting Sergeant and Acting Detective.

Lee County Sheriff Office, Fort Myers, Florida (1981-2007) Served 25 years with the Lee County Sheriff Office and held all ranks up to and including Major. Held supervisory positions in the Patrol Division, Aviation and Marine Divisions, Criminal Investigation Division (Major Crimes) and Criminal Investigations (District), Training Division, Internal Affairs and coordinator to the U.S. Customs Blue Lighting Strike Force. Project coordinator for the construction of the Lee County Gun Range.

Lee County Mosquito Control District, Fort Myers, Florida (2007-2018) Deputy Director of Aviation, Fleet, and Facilities. Supervisory of all Aviation and Fleet assets which included 15 helicopters, eight fixed wing aircraft, thirty specialized vehicles, and the upkeep of 194 acre airport (Buckingham Airport), nine heliports, and other properties owned and operated by the District. Project Coordinator for building projects at the District.

Political Experience/offices held: Never held a political office.

Civic/Community involvement:

Region Ten Training Advisory Board FDLE – Criminal Justice Standards and Training (2000 2004)

Florida SouthWestern State College / Edison Community College Criminal Justice Advisory Board (2000 2018)

Family: Married (46 Years), two daughters, one son

Military Experience: Never had the privilege



Candidate positions at a glance

Why are you running?

The conduct, experience and background of the current Interim Sheriff has caused me to seek the position of Sheriff as has the reckless use and self-serving expenditures of tax funds. One example includes the expenditure of tax funds to go to Tallahassee to attend a two-hour retirement party for a FHP Bureau Chief. This trip included seven ranking officers attending, use of one private aircraft, dispatch of two departmental vehicles, rental of two vehicles at Tallahassee and seven motel rooms with an expenditure of over $ 6,000. Florida State Statue is clear on this, the expenditure of public funds must have a “public purpose.”

Planks of your platform:

Enforce professional police standards by example and by enforcement

Eliminate reckless and self-serving expenditures

Establish a pay grade system and promotional system that draws the most qualified person and creates better retention

Top three issues:

Moral and ethical behavior, a return to professional conduct

Eliminate misuse of taxpayer monies

Improve communications and working environment with employees, with the media, and with the community

Candidate name: Michael “Coach Ray” Qualls

(Coach Ray on the ballot)

Seat sought: Lee County Sheriff


Age: 47


Corrections academy South West Florida Criminal Justice Academy 1995, Law enforcement academy South west Florida Criminal Justice Academy 1998, Conducting Death and Homicide investigations Indian River State College 2013, Middle Management South West Florida Criminal Justice Academy 2008, Crisis intervention Team Hendry County 2016, Psychology/Social Work Stratford Career Institute 2010, Business Management Stratford Career Institute 2007, Criminal Justice Stratford Career Institute 2007, Incident Command for Law Enforcement South West Florida Criminal Justice Academy 2003, School Based Violence Law Enforcement Training Services 2000, Hostage Negotiations South West Florida Criminal Justice Academy 2018, Advanced Ericksonian Hypnotist American Alliance of Hypnotists 2018, Master Life Coach American Union of NLP 2018, Cognitive Behavioral Life Coach Transformation Academy 2019, CBT Practitioner The Academy of Modern Applied Psychology 2019, Strategic Life Coaching Practitioner The Priority Academy 2019, NLP Master Practitioner American Union of NLP 2018.

Occupation and place of employment: Retired Law Enforcement 21 years, Hendry County Sheriff’s Office. Own business, Unlock Your Mind With Coach Ray, hypnosis and life coaching.

Years of residency in Lee County: 26 years

Business or professional experience applicable to the office you are seeking: Retired Law Enforcement 21 years

Political Experience/offices held: none

Civic/Community involvement: none

Family: Married, 2 daughters

Military Experience: Navy, 14 years active duty and reserves. served during the 9/11. Master at Arms 2nd Class (navy police E5)



Candidate positions at a glance

Why are you running?

To make changes in how law enforcement is conducted

Planks of your platform:

Top three issues:

1. Life Coaching in the Jail to rehabilitate instead of just punish

2. Mentor program for kids to cut down on teen suicide, bullying and school shootings.

3. Training for Law Enforcement to build a stronger relationship with the community.

Candidate name: Robert M. Neeld

Seat sought: Sheriff Lee County

Party: Democrat

Mr. Neeld said he would prefer to submit his information after the primary

* All information has been provided by the candidates

Additional election coverage may be found on the Cape Coral Breeze website under “News,” “Election 2020”