The voters of Pasco County have spoken. And Sheriff Chris Nocco says their voices have been heard.
“People like that we’re tough on crime,” Nocco told the large crowd gathered at the Verizon building in New Port Richey Tuesday night.
The evening started as a night of support, but quickly turned to a victory party as results came in shortly after early results started coming in, showing the sheriff with a hefty lead over challenger Kim Bogart.
“It all starts with God,” Nocco said, thanking his supporters, volunteers, deputies, family, and especially his wife, Bridgette.
Sen. Mike Fasano told the many volunteers who campaigned for Nocco that they could take the day off tomorrow.
And the newly elected sheriff had a special message for a group of people not in attendance at Tuesday’s gathering.
“If you’re a criminal in Pasco County… you better run,” he said.
“It's an exciting victory for our agency, “ Nocco said later. “It shows our citizens stand behind us.”
The first order of business now is to get feedback from deputies and staff to find out how the agency can further improve and keep building on what’s already been accomplished, Nocco said.
Still, no matter how great tonight’s victory is, Nocco said, he won’t sleep any easier tonight just because the election is over.
“The Blackberry is always on,” Nocco said. “We have deputies still out there protecting our citizens.”
Supporters were elated with the victory.
Retired captain Joe Frontz was “very excited,” he said.
“I don’t have a dog in the hunt anymore,” but in the 24 years he was with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, he never saw morale higher than what it has been under Nocco, he said.
"He has the enthusiasm and the creativity to lead this agency," Frontz said. "He's made a significant impact."
Campaign volunteer Rene Van Hout was asked to cut the cake, “an honor” she said brought tears to her eyes.
“Chris Nocco is not the only winner, Pasco County is. We win as one,” she said.
Van Hout said she is one of the few volunteers who is not a deputy or staff member—“one of the few with nothing to gain” personally for her efforts.
But now, she has a band of brothers, Van Hout said.