74.8 F
Sunday, October 1, 2023

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods seeking third term in 2024

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods will be running for re-election in 2024.

On Tuesday, Woods filed the appropriate paperwork with the Marion County Supervisor of Elections Office as he seeks a third term as sheriff.

Woods, a former Ocala Police Department lieutenant/watch commander, was first elected in November 2016 when he defeated Democrat Dennis McFatten, a retired Marion County Sheriff’s captain.

Upon taking office in 2016, Woods was largely credited with bringing stability to a law enforcement agency that had been rocked by controversy prior to his arrival. Former Sheriff Chris Blair originally had plans to seek re-election in 2016, but he pulled out of the race as part of a plea bargain after being indicted on two counts of perjury and one count of official misconduct. Blair had been accused of lying about the use of excessive force in an earlier arrest and had been suspended following his own arrest.

Woods replaced Sheriff Emery Gainey, who had been appointed by then-Governor Rick Scott to temporarily fill the role of sheriff in Marion County. Gainey served as the master of ceremonies at Woods inauguration on January 3, 2017, and he personally swore in the new sheriff.

In 2020, Woods ran unopposed and was sworn in for a second term as the Sheriff of Marion County. This had not occurred since Sheriff Don R. Moreland’s administration.

During Woods’ tenure as sheriff, he has instilled a new honor code, re-instituted the MCSO Motor Unit to increase traffic enforcement in Marion County, purchased new motorcycles for the Motor Unit deputies, and he created the MCSO Agricultural Deputy position and AG Watch Program, which established a contact network with the local agri-business community to improve responsiveness to their needs.

Woods has supported the MCSO Juvenile and Crisis Intervention Unit by purchasing scent preservation kits to distribute to at-risk juveniles, individuals with special needs, and elderly citizens who are prone to wandering away from their guardians and homes. These scent samples help K-9 units locate the missing persons quickly.

In addition, Woods created the Therapy Dog program, which allows a trained therapy dog to be used by the MCSO Department of Children and Families to interact with victims of traumatic events. He has also prioritized the pay for MCSO deputies and employees, and he worked with Marion County commissioners during his first term to help raise salaries to better align with state averages.

Prior to becoming sheriff, Woods spent 26 years in the Ocala Police Department. During that time, he received multiple commendations and was a Medal of Valor and Medal of Distinction recipient. He earned a B.S. in criminal justice/business administration from Columbia Southern University.

Woods joins several other candidates who have filed to run for office in Marion County:

  • Property Appraiser – Jimmy Cowan (Republican).
  • County Commissioner: Jose “Manny “Alonso (Independent) and Nicole M. Meade (Republican).

The general election will be held on November 5, 2024. For more information, visit the Marion County Supervisor of Elections website.