Daniels should be judged by his job, not personal issues

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MIDDLEBURG – Sheriff Darryl Daniels promised to tone down his rhetoric ahead of Tuesday night’s Town Hall meeting at the Centerpoint Baptist Church.

And while he kept his cool explaining the give-and-take of his proposed budget, his emotions boiled when he was pressed by a tabloid journalist to explain why his wife was filing for divorce after he admitted to having a lengthy affair.

Daniels’ response was tight and poignant. And it was on target.

It’s nobody’s business.

As the sheriff of Clay County, Daniels has an obligation to explain his work to residents. Crime rate, budget shortfalls and drug busts are fair game. His personal life is not.

His indiscretions were certain to mentioned, especially since Daniels has maintained a low profile since details of long-term affair with an employee at the Duval County Jail were revealed.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has since opened an investigation, and the findings should be important to everyone in Clay County.

The sheriff tried to get ahead of the controversy early in the meeting by making a public apology to his wife.

“I will say this since I have the cameras looking at me and I’m on Facebook live and I got a wife at home, I’ve never made a public apology to that woman,” Daniels said. “I want to say it in front of God and everybody, I want to make sure everyone understands that Denise Daniels, I love that woman. I apologize to her publicly. That’s my wife. I apologize to her.”

The purpose of the Town Hall was to explain the agency’s proposed budget. Daniels said his original $10.2 million requested increase had been whittled down to $4.9 million through negotiations with county manager Howard Wanamaker.

A sheriff who once boasted he doesn’t negotiate suddenly seemed to be working within the confines of the process. We pressed him to make his case with the public before going to the Board of County Commissioners. If he wins the public’s confidence, the BCC will follow.

Daniels did that Tuesday night.

Now it’s up to the BCC to respond.

Daniels certainly has a difficult road ahead. Not only does he have to find a way to run an agency with fewer dollars than needed, but he must do it with under a cloud of personal distractions.

The connection between his personal and professional life had to be expected. That comes with a 24-hour news cycle and a disturbing shift from credible journalism to salacious headlines. How else did the Kardashians become so popular?

Daniels was asked if his personal issues had any affect on his budget request or his office’s ability to retain officers.

“No,” Daniels said without flinching. “I think the sheriff's office is just as effective as it has always been. I think morale is pretty decent in the sheriff's office, no different than any other sheriff's office.”

Although it’s nobody’s business, the issues surrounding Daniels’ personal life probably won’t go away anytime soon. Whether it has a lasting affect on the voters won’t be known until November 2020.

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