Just wanted to share: The person knocking on my door this past weekend was Mel Eakley. He is a candidate for the upcoming Citrus County Sheriff election. What an awesome, professional, and qualified individual! If he knocks on your door, I strongly urge you to meet him! You can also check him out at his campaign kickoff event this Saturday, January 25th 11am - 1:30pm at the Realtors Association of Citrus County Building in Lecanto (714 S Scarboro Ave.) He stands ready to get things back on track in Sugarmill Woods, and all of the ignored southwest part of Citrus County! Here is his website: https://www.EakleyForSheriff.com  

Sharon Bassing 

Sugarmill Woods III

Citrus County Chronicle May 1st 2020

Eakley is who we need as sheriff

The safety and concern of my community for me, my family and my students, led me to spend time with Maj. Mel Eakley during his campaign to become the next Citrus County Sheriff. I reside in Inverness with my three children. My family made Citrus County our home in 2002, and I am a Citrus County teacher.

Maj. Eakley has experience not only leading the School Resource Officer Units but also having spent time as an SRO for a few years. In the early 2000s, Mel developed and implemented a school bus crash crisis plan to respond and manage a school bus crash. This plan was innovative and adopted by the sheriff’s office and several police agencies throughout the state of Florida. This plan was put to use in Zephyrhills when a bus full of elementary school children flipped onto its side. Safety is a priority for me, my co-workers and my students’ families. Mel demonstrates credible knowledge with how to prepare, support and preserve a safe environment for students to learn and teachers to teach.

Today, communities and leaders must unite to ensure the best practices are being supported by all participants. Mel will partner with Superintendent Sam Himmel and together a cohesive assurance will be demonstrated. I have never been involved in and or more interested in the sheriff’s election than I now. Our quality of life depends on making the best decision on who is the next sheriff. Please do your own homework and prepare for the test on election day. Maj. Eakley’s lifelong law enforcement experience is what we need now and into the future. Let’s restore the sense of a safe community with his leadership.

Karin Kersh


Citrus County Chronicle April 30th 2020

Eakley will lead and improve

The future of our quality of life depends on selecting the best candidate for sheriff and Mel Eakley will lead, improve and preserve what we have grown to love. I have known Major Eakley for 20-plus years and am familiar with his success in the sheriff’s office. As a medical professional and former Army veteran in Tampa Bay, I have encountered many law enforcement officers during the past 25 years and none more concerned for the safety of those he served. I have lived in Citrus County for four years, and have witnessed it begin to change. Law enforcement leadership will pave the way to handle growth and face tough issues like mental health, homelessness and addiction. Mel has proven experience in addressing these areas and has led a large agency to success with his ideas and strategies.

I have heard Major Eakley talk to many people and answer questions on the spot about school safety and how his approach for drug enforcement is significantly different that the incumbent. Mel is approachable, listens to what people are saying and offers his thoughts. Mel is not a politician but someone who has devoted 29 years of his life to serving others. I encourage you to review each candidate’s résumé and learn who has been there and done that.

Patrick Cockill


Citrus County Chronicle May 5th 2020

Eakley best sheriff candidate

Being born and raised in this great community of Citrus County is something I am so proud of and grateful for. As a graduate of Crystal River High school, as well as having attended the local primary and middle schools, I find myself surrounded by volumes of lifelong caring friends, acquaintances and downright wonderful people. In addition to feeling extremely indebted to, and extremely thankful for, my fellow community members, I have shared this good fortune of being a part of this great community with my siblings and my five wonderful nephews. The community has given us so much over the years, and service to the community with and on behalf of my family is a major part of our lives. I am inspired to stand up and provide information on the upcoming, and especially important, sheriff’s primary election of Aug. 18. On that note, I will share that the best candidate for the position of Citrus County Sheriff is Mel Eakley.

For those who may not know me, I have spent much of my entire career as a law enforcement officer as a Citrus County Sheriff’s officer. After graduating from the Withlacoochee Technical College Law Enforcement Academy in Inverness, I began my law enforcement career, where I am currently employed, at the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. It was at the beginning of my career with Pasco County that I had the opportunity to meet and learn from Mel Eakley, then corporal of the Road Patrol Squad. I quickly realized that Mel Eakley was a true leader, and someone who was a true role model and mentor. His encouragement for me to continually learn and apply was persistent. Under his tutelage, I not only learned as much as possible regarding the many entities of law enforcement, but I also went on to earn my college degrees. Although Mel Eakley’s career moves escalated him to such positions as detective of narcotics, major crimes, school resource officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and to the position of Major of Field Operations, our relationship, whereby we remained friendly professional colleagues, remained intact.

I encourage every Citrus County citizen to do their research, and learn about all the candidates.

Craig Fass


Citrus County Chronicle May 18th 2020

Eakley has the needed experience

In the near future, Citrus County will need to prepare for significant changes in population, demographics and density, and safety considerations. The election for sheriff, has for the first time, had us engaged in the political process. My husband and I have had serious conversations with Mel Eakley and were impressed by his grasp of the issues and the experience he brings to the table. This position requires leadership and a strong background in law enforcement. There is only one clear choice on the ballot, and I would encourage you to research his background and experience and endorse Mel Eakley for sheriff of Citrus County in this year’s election. Experience counts, we need change in Citrus County.

 Kathy Beck


Citrus County Chronicle May 17th 2020

Eakley loyal, caring, honest

I lived in Pasco County prior to moving to Citrus County. I did not know Mel Eakley personally, but I knew his name. Mel Eakley was very much respected and had the reputation of a loyal, honest and caring officer. I had the pleasure of meeting Mel and his wife Lori after I moved to Citrus County through mutual different charitable organizations. He and his wife have gone above and beyond buying gifts for families at Christmas for several years. He cares very much about the community and Citrus County. Being friends with someone does not qualify them to be sheriff. Going to high school with someone does not qualify them to be sheriff . Serving in the military police does not qualify them to be sheriff. Experience qualifies you to be sheriff and Mel Eakley is the only candidate running for sheriff that has 25 solid years of experience and leadership.

I encourage you to please do your homework and look at all the candidates running for sheriff and you will see that Mel Eakley is the only qualified choice for sheriff.

 Judy Biston


Citrus County Chronicle May 24th 2020

Eakley Best Sheriff's Candidate

As someone with no background in law enforcement, though has been married to someone who has moved through the ranks to retire as deputy chief, but has loved our community and the people in it, been involved with local nonprofits and small businesses, and just genuinely wants the best for us, I would like to talk about the man I believe would be the best sheriff for our community — Mel Eakley.

Our last election was an exciting time, and whether you liked Dawsy or not, you knew the future was going to be bright with Phil Royal taking the reins. Then tragedy struck, and the community came together to mourn an incredible man. We, at last minute, had to make a fast decision over the best of who was left. Fast forward: Are we happy? Do we feel safer? Or did we pick a placeholder for the next four years until we could vote again?

It is time to think about our community, why certain decisions were made, and why we voted the way they did in the last election. It is time to vote for the best candidate for the job. The best candidate for the job, based on résumé, passion and real-life experience is Mel Eakley. I would put my word and my community on it. Mel has been genuine, funny, and real from the first time I met him and through our collaborations. I have learned more and more about the kind of person he is and the experience and passion he has for what he believes in. I trust him to lead us more than I can express, and I ask my fellow community members to really do their research — be a voice — and choose what is best for our community. Look at Mel’s résumé, talk to him, meet him. Heck call him — he will answer — and see why he is the best candidate.

 Melissa Olbek


Citrus County Chronicle May 27th 2020

Eakley most qualified Candidate

 I want everybody in Citrus County to really pay attention to this year’s sheriff election. Please look into the qualifications for each candidate. Mel Eakley is by far the most qualified for this position. His career started in the patrol division. From there he moved on to detective, including undercover narcotics. Mel then worked in the major crimes’ unit. He worked his way up the ladder including sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and major overseeing over all uniformed operations. He understands the administrative end of law enforcement as well. The bottom line is Mel has stayed in his lane with law enforcement his entire career and certainly has the qualifications. I am voting for Mel Eakley for Citrus County Sheriff.

 Mark Stuckie


Citrus County Chronicle May 7th 2020

Experience counts when it comes to safety  

On Aug. 18, Citrus County voters will have the opportunity to have a retake on an important decision concerning who should be the next Citrus County Sheriff and how we can return the office of sheriff to a truly experienced civilian law enforcement leader.

I support Maj. Mel Eakley without reservation. His experience, character and diligence outline the reasons for me.

Maj. Eakley’s experience, proven leadership and vision are the main reasons that allow me to place complete trust in his abilities to provide the same high quality service in Citrus County, for which he is known for throughout his 25 years in civilian law enforcement.

Please consider honoring Maj. Eakley with your vote on August 18. I can promise he will work tirelessly to make our county a better and safer place to live and visit.

Take the time to learn more about Mel Eakley and why experience really counts when it comes our safety and leading the good men and women at the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. Visit his official website www.EakleyForSheriff.com and I urge you to consider joining me and hundreds of others in our community in supporting Mel Eakley as our next sheriff of Citrus County.


 Kevin Cunningham

 Crystal River

Citrus County Chronicle Jun 21st 2019

Another Act Of Defince


When Mike Prendergast was elected Sheriff in 2016, I had high hopes. He seemed to fit the profile of what many expected would be a positive change agent: an authorized leader or manager, usually “from the outside,” to affect or influence a stale organization in need of change.

Some changes came. I’m not convinced they are at all for the better. I’m also not sure Prendergast is a core leader. He seems to be more divisive than decisive, more a divider than a joiner. In full disclosure, I’m a registered Republican and voted for Mike. Like many current and retired LEOs — we listened to Jeff. Such is the respect regularly afforded the resident outgoing leader.

Candidate Prendergast boasted of his military police credentials. If I had any reservation I knew from my own police career his military background as successful as it may have been, is not usually the foundation for a smooth transition toward civilian law enforcement.

It truly is apples and oranges. I wanted to believe Mr. Prendergast had accrued the kind of management experience which would cause reevaluation of my skepticism.

During the election cycle, he cleverly convinced a voting public starving for a successful candidate his background would save the day. I’ve concluded, like many who voted for him, I was hoodwinked. I think so, too, was the previous sheriff who endorsed him following the untimely death of Phil Royal.

The position of sheriff (and deputies) in any county is the linking pin to every facet of the population.

The everyday citizen going about their daily life; their elected officials at every level (federal, state, county and municipal); and perhaps the most important, albeit unheralded, are the 67 Florida county school boards. The school board stands independently as a sub-division of state government.

These elected officials represent the past, present and future of everyone they graduate — not to mention their families.

Citrus County School District employees, top to bottom, deserve a deference they rarely get. Students and staffs surely deserve the safety they are demanding. Petty politics and personal spats have no place.

So how did the Sheriff manage to irk so many so soon?

Perhaps it was his undermanaging the separation of police and fire. Maybe it was the budget fiascos of the last few cycles. Could it have been his stubbornness regarding the security and safety of students and staff for Citrus County Schools even following the guidance served up by the state? I think it was part and parcel of all of these. My experience tells me this is just some of the most visible. It is testament to “apples and oranges.”

As a military colonel he was part of a command structure, but NOT the ultimate influencer — clearly not the decider. In the Army this is reserved for the general corp or those ranks above. A colonel recommends action or changes and receives eventual directives or orders. Of course, exigent circumstances can cause rapid independent action. In this, our military is superb. Still, there is the strategic planning and the tactical response. Every colonel or sheriff should know where they are in any given circumstance.

This sheriff has yet to realize the success of his planning and strategy is dependent on the good will he generates. Favorable public opinion translates into appropriate support — budget and otherwise. Positive relations are a two-way street and no matter the situation, should be a core value starting with him. Thus far the inability to regularly engage with the local governments, speaks volumes about his lack of depth. Leading a law enforcement agency is all about consensus building with a heavy dose of compromise and always good faith. It can’t be the military way, or as I’ve heard from time to time: “it’s his way or the highway.”

So here most recently we have Sheriff Prendergast trying to disallow the school district’s recently appointed police chief access to this or that. His poor management tactic in causing (or allowing) a subordinate to write the letter putting the school board on notice is but another example of the military model. This is the role a Col. Prendergast might have played for his superiors. By the way, it telegraphs where he was in the military scheme. Good will is picking up the phone and relaying concerns.

Yes we all understand in a perfect “Mike Prendergast World” his leadership style would have citizens and elected officials checking with him before any initiated action. How can he build good will when officially pouting in the face of authorized activity generated by a governing body? Any leader, no matter the issue, should register their concerns privately (and yes I read the files and there are some) and then get on with it for the greater good. Hopefully this is his last act of defiance. I for one see an uphill battle for re-election. He’d have to go a long way to obtain my vote. I know I’m not the only one thinking he could be “one and done.”

Citrus deserves a better approach.

Pete Cuccaro is a US Army Viet Nam veteran. He then rose through the ranks of the Miami Dade Police Department. Following his county retirement he was appointed Chief of Police and Security for the Miami Dade School Board. He is a past president of the Miami Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police and a life member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police having served on their adjunct faculty. He remains a sustaining member of the Florida Police Chiefs Association and continues his longstanding membership in the Florida Sheriffs and the Florida Deputy Sheriffs Associations. He has called Citrus County home since 2010. He can be reached at petecuccaro@gmail.com

Pete Cuccaro

Eakley will tackle drug Problem

Citrus County Chronicle Jun 17st 2020

As a retired officer/deputy, I look at candidates for sheriff with many questions pertaining to experience, goal planning, attitude and sincerity. I have worked under good, bad and indifferent sheriffs. A good sheriff not only understands the needs of the citizens, but the needs of his department to build trust and good moral in the ranks. I have spent time discussing my concerns with Maj. Mel Eakley and totally support him as a qualified candidate for sheriff.

My law enforcement background specialized in drug enforcement. Drug enforcement is not low level, small quantity, costly drug addict busts, but enforcement for longer term investigations to follow the chain to put a stop to drugs coming into our county. Arresting street level dealers only serves to put a Band-Aid on the drug problem. A well-planned drug enforcement operation leads to stolen property recovery, felons with firearms, etc.; it’s not usually just the drugs. Maj. Eakley has a well-planned outline, which I totally agree with to tackle the real drug problem in our county along with building partnerships with other counties, DEA, etc.

Maj. Eakley has leadership skills with a clear path of development for personnel and a clear appreciation for skills and training, including education, mentoring program, master deputy/detective programs. Not everyone wants to be a supervisor, but his plan will help those who want to become technical experts during their career with opportunity for growth. A good leader encourages career growth, which increases department moral.

Maj. Eakley has a clear outline for deputies to earn higher levels of rank. His outline included an assessment center which includes: oral board — comprised of assessors from area law enforcement agencies; written tests on law, policy and procedure; and leadership; points for education and advanced specialized training; tabletop exercise on critical incident management; ranked order allowing selection from top candidates.

My experience warranted me questioning and taking notes prior to my endorsement. I found Maj. Eakley to have the leadership skills I deem necessary to move law enforcement in this county to a higher level. With Maj. Eakley as sheriff, I can honestly say that if I were 25 years younger, I would apply to work for him. I found him articulate in his planning, experienced and likable. He has a caring concern for the county he lives in. Maj. Eakley has my endorsement for sheriff of Citrus County.

     Paula Anspach

          Retired Law Enforcement

 Eakley the most qualified

  Citrus County Chronicle Jun 17st 2020


   Mel Eakley is the sheriff Citrus County deserves. For several months, I have been following the Mel Eakley for sheriff campaign. After       several conversations with him and in reviewing the videos he has posted on YouTube, I am convinced that Maj. Eakley is the most   qualified candidate. I am especially impressed with his views on community policing, code enforcement and community engagement. He   has an impressive background starting out as a road patrolman and rising to the rank of major. He has served with distinction in every   capacity in a Florida sheriff’s office.

 Citrus County has a great opportunity to elect a true law enforcement professional as their sheriff. I urge everyone to look at the records of those running and I’m sure, you too, will consider Maj. Mel Eakley for the next sheriff of Citrus County.

   Tom Ryan

 Eakley brings care, values to         community

  Citrus County Chronicle Jun 17st 2020

Many people in Citrus County have reached out to me asking who am I supporting in the 2020 Citrus County sheriff election and why? My answer is plain an simple. I served this county as a deputy/major crimes detective for 29 years. I have worked under two sheriffs who have made me proud to serve and always put the community safety first, while building relationships with the cities and county government agencies.

Mel Eakley is the only candidate that brings to the table the experience, community care and values that we need in Citrus County. My wife Mary and I endorse Mel Eakley as the next sheriff of Citrus County and ask you to educate yourself on all the candidate’s qualifications/experience. Please cast your vote for the only man I believe will best serve Citrus County as sheriff, Mel Eakley.

Gary Atchison



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