Escambia County News Politics

Morgan vs. Powell

April 10, 2012
morgan, debate

Much like the lunchtime cliques a few hours prior, the debate audience took to separate sides of Booker T. Washington High School’s cafeteria. Supporters of incumbent Sheriff David Morgan sat on one side, while supporters of challenger John Powell sat on the other. Both camps sported a good number of campaign t-shirts.

The Escambia County Republican Party hosted a candidate forum last night between the two GOP candidates for sheriff. The debate attracted about 200 people, as well as GOP candidates vying for various local offices.

Eyeing an August primary, each candidate was given an opportunity to tout their successes and convince voters they’re the right man for the job. Morgan told the audience they should “stay the course,” while Powell tried to convince them that a change in leadership is needed.

“We do business differently at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office,” Morgan said, arguing that he had cleaned house upon taking office in 2008.

Powell, meanwhile, said that the house needed cleaning again. This time, by him.

“We’re at a crossroads right now,” he said. “We have to make a decision how we’re going to handle things here in Escambia County.”

Several times, Powell drew parallels with the city of Pensacola. He cited the election of Mayor Ashton Hayward and paired it with the revitalization of downtown. The candidate said Escambia County should follow the city’s lead and embrace change.

“We’ve got to make changes now if we want Escambia County to be progressive,” he said. “We’ve seen what change can do—look at downtown.”

Morgan told the audience he had the thick skin required of an elected official and quoted Gandhi.

“I’m a hard-headed Missouri boy—only child—I play well by myself,” the Sheriff said. “One of my favorite quotes is from Mohandas Gandhi: ‘I may stand alone, but the truth remains the same.’”

Each candidate also took the opportunity to sling a little political mud. Morgan alluded to Powell being thrown out of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Powell accused the incumbent of hiring employees with known domestic abuse issues. Both men questioned the others’ respective qualifications.

Powell also said that Morgan had not reduced budgets as much as he was claiming and also fudged the crime statistics he reported to the feds.

“You can submit any information you want to to UCR and make the crime rate look any way you want it,” said Powell, charging that the Sheriff has not cut crime as much as recent stats indicate.

Morgan bristled at that notion.

“That’s a federal crime,” he said, asserting that the numbers coming out of his office were accurate. “I encourage you to please report that.”

The night’s forum also included a question-answer session with the audience. Most of the questions gave the opponents opportunities to further distinguish themselves from each other and take a few more jabs.

“Look at the future of Escambia County,” Powell urged. “What can it become?”

Morgan urged voters to look at his record and said that his opponent “lives with his dad.” The Sheriff also mentioned—without elaborating—that Powell had some issues in his past and had been “smart enough to get his record expunged.”

“Sadly, once again, I’m the Republican candidate for sheriff that has not been arrested or tried for any crime,” Morgan said.

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  • Steff Berry May 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    This was my first debate I have ever saw. I saw the back and forth going on between the two. Morgan accused Powell of a few things that took me some time to do my research and come to find out thru research here at UWF, Powell was right, Morgan is not a certified law enforcment officer, he does not have 35 years of law enforcment time, just 23 years if you count the airforce. Powell has 27 yrs with FBI mixed in there.morgan said in the end of the debate that he was the#1 canidate for the commissioner of FDLE from Gov. Scott and Attn Gen. Pam Bundy, but Powell produced a email from the governors office saying that was as he said a non truth. Morgan stated crime has been down on his watch as he put it, Powell said FDLE put out Pensacola’s crime is up 8%. May I ask why does Morgan still bring up te Billings murders because of my research, the video camera’s and a tip about the fleeing van caught the crooks not Morgan as he states. And my cousin is a deputy and he has not seen a pay raise in three years but Morgan give Aiken a $50,000.00 pay raise in three years and he had the nerve that as he said, You can’t get blood out of a rock, in essence he can’t give the deputies a raise cause all the money is spent on Aiken, his wife and his daughter. I saw that the three pull down over $250,000.00 a year. Im voteing for Powell it seems he is the oly one here telling the truth. Thank you for letting me tell what I see from a UWF POLYSCI student.

    • Rick Outzen May 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Have you checked into Powell’s claim that he served as a Lt. at the ECSO?

  • chip chism April 11, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I am a Democrat but I support Morgan. I met him on Easter Sunday at the Scenic 90 Cafe and he could not have been nicer. I think he is a good man in a tough job and I plan to vote for him again.

  • Another Citizen April 11, 2012 at 12:47 am

    I am a supporter of Morgan and I would have to agree with the previous post. I also commend the feedback and support your assessment poster.

  • Citizen April 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Rick, I must say that your reporting on this debate was fair. I commend you for the approach on the article. I don’t support Morgan and I know you do, but you were very fair. Thanks.