Jose “Joe” Lopez, who served for more than 30 years with the Florida Highway Patrol, is a Marine veteran and current security manager at Walt Disney World, filed Thursday to run for Orange County sheriff this year.

Lopez, 56, is the second candidate to enter the race, joining Thomas Stroup, a retired Orange County Sheriff’s Office captain. They’re both seeking to replace Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who is running for Orange County mayor, rather than to seek a fourth term.

An east Orlando resident, Lopez is a military veteran who achieved the rank of sergeant with the United States Marines, with whom he protected America’s interest overseas at multiple United States embassies.

He retired a year ago as a major with the Florida Highway Patrol, where he had overseen 250 troopers from Orlando to Miami.

“In 32 years with the state troopers, and serving my country as a Marine, and being a Boy Scout and a Cub Scout and a Navy cadet and an alter boy, I have a strong willingness to serve,” Lopez said “It’s a strong sense of duty for me.”

On Wednesday he said he wants to complete the work begun by Demings to bring in 250 additional deputy sheriffs. Lopez said the key is getting them onto the streets as quickly as possible, where they can be visible and help reduce crime. He said he is committed to strengthening bonds between communities and law enforcement.

“A law enforcement organization could not possibly be an effective one without the relentless pursuit of creating relationships with the people we serve. Legitimacy and trust are more than just words, they are the bedrock of my policing philosophy.”

He and his wife, Lisette, are raising two children; Andy and Victoria, both of which are currently attending the University of Central Florida.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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