Orlando Police Chief John Mina is being backed by Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, an Orlando resident, in Mina’s quest to become the next sheriff of Orange County.

“Chief John Mina has been a dedicated public servant to the people of Orlando for many years,” Nelson stated in a news release issued Friday by Mina’s campaign. “He is a proven leader who has shown a deep commitment to the security of the Orlando community and he will continue to honorably serve the people of Orange County.”

Mina faces retired Florida Highway Patrol Chief Jose “Joe” Lopez in the Nov. 6 election. Also on the ballot is former reserve policeman Darryl Sheppard, though his low-budget, long-shot campaign has been sidetracked by recent reports that he himself has an extensive arrest record of mostly of relatively minor offenses, but including battery with a motor vehicle.

Sheppard is the only one on the ballot, who like Nelson, is listed as a Democrat. Both Mina and Lopez registered as Democratic voters late last year. But both are running as independent candidates in the partisan sheriff’s race because neither changed his registration status in time to qualify for the ballot under their new party.

They all seek to serve the final two years of a term being vacated by thrice-elected Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who is running for Orange County mayor this year.

Nelson highlighted Mina’s experience in public service and law enforcement.

“John began his life in public service in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and he has continued to serve,” Nelson stated in the release. “He has dedicated nearly three decades of his life to law enforcement and to protecting the Orlando community, making him qualified to be the next Orange County Sheriff.”

In response to the endorsement, Mina stated, “The endorsement from U.S Sen. Bill Nelson is a true honor. The senator and I have worked together on numerous occasions to improve the Orlando community. I look forward to expanding on those successes as the next Orange County sheriff.”

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