David Cheshire is running for sheriff of Lee County.
LEESBURG — David Cheshire says his goal is to “give the people of Lee County their sheriff’s department back.”
Cheshire said he feels strongly enough about that issue to step down from his position as first lieutenant with the department to run against Sheriff Reggie Rachals.
“Ever since Reggie took office, I’ve had this little itch in the back of my mind that things were not quite being done right,” Cheshire, whose almost 23 years in law enforcement includes a six-year-plus stint as a Lee County deputy, said Tuesday in announcing his candidacy. “A lot of my close friends in the department were fired when Reggie took office and while I have no problem with someone firing employees when necessary, I do have a problem with firing people who have a good work ethic for personal reasons.
“In addition to (law enforcement being) my job, as a citizen of Lee County, what the sheriff does affects me as a taxpayer. I noticed things, especially in the way money was spent, that didn’t set right with me. So I decided to run for office and to offer the facts for people in the county to see. I will not get into mudslinging in this campaign, but I will tell the truth.”
Cheshire started his law enforcement career at the age of 18 when he was recruited by officials with the Leary Police Department. After a year, he moved on to the Edison Police Department, then worked as a sheriff’s deputy in Calhoun, Early and Lee counties.
He sought a position with the Lee department when he started dating his wife, Kristi, who is a paramedic with Lee EMS. The couple have three children: Danielle Musgrove, 24; Taylor Cheshire, 16, and Mikayla Eubanks, 11.
“One of the biggest concerns I have is that we keep putting the same people in our jail over and over and over,” Cheshire said. “If we had some kind of program in place to head that off, there’s no telling how much money we could save the state and Lee County.”
Cheshire said he resigned from his position (his last day was Thursday) in accordance with policy implemented by Rachals in October “when rumors of people considering running against him started to circulate.”
“New policy was enacted in October that basically said anyone planning to run for office could resign or be terminated,” Cheshire said. “One thing I’ve always done is adhere to policy. I have a clean disciplinary record.
“I could have stayed in my position and remained comfortable, but I decided to follow my heart and not my gut.”
Chris Anderson, a former Lee deputy who said he was fired by Rachals for supporting former Sheriff Harold Breeden when Rachals took office, is working with Cheshire’s campaign.
“I know David’s not running for office just to be sheriff,” Anderson said. “He has a love for this community, and he feels that he can make a difference in the financial dealings of the sheriff’s department and in the morale of the employees.”
Kristi Cheshire said she supports her husband’s decision to run for office.
“I’m behind him 100 percent,” she said. “I know the type of law enforcement officer he’s always been, and while I may be a little biased, I think he would make a wonderful sheriff.
“David’s one of those rare individuals who gives out his phone number to citizens he’s worked with and tells them to call if they have problems. He’s always been that way, and our phone has always rung off the hook with people calling him for help.”
Cheshire, who owns a lawn-care business, said he will spend most of his time during the next seven months leading up to the election meeting and talking with the people in the county.
“I’ve seen first-hand the way the sheriff’s department is being handled,” he said. “In order to make it right, I felt I had to step up (and challenge Rachals). I can’t just sit back and leave things as they are. I’m in this for the right reasons.”
The general primary election is scheduled for July 31.