Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Col. Rick Wells Becomes Second Sheriff in Family | Says Securing Money to Hire More Deputies Is His Top Priority

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Col. Rick Wells Becomes Second Sheriff in Family | Says Securing Money to Hire More Deputies Is His Top Priority

Article excerpt

MANATEE COUNTY SHERIFF

MANATEE COUNTY -- When Col. Rick Wells announced that he would seek election as the next Manatee County sheriff, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight not only expressed his support for the officer he once supervised at the Florida Highway Patrol but said he would be the first to donate to his campaign.

Knight made good on that promise, giving Wells a $200 check that would be the first contribution recorded in his campaign finance reports.

The monetary support kept pouring in, giving Wells the largest campaign chest of any candidate in Manatee's local races. He spent just a fraction of that $135,000 and attracted no opponent.

"I've been blessed with an overwhelming amount of support from people throughout the county. I can't thank them enough for believing in me," Wells said Friday afternoon after finding out he will become the second generation of his family to wear the sheriff's badge.

While speaking to the East Manatee Republican Club several months ago, Wells proudly described himself as "a cop." Every moment of the day, he said, he thinks and acts as a law enforcement officer. "It's in my blood."

Indeed, Wells has been building his resume and preparing himself for the sheriff's job throughout his adult life, and he credited Sheriff Brad Steube and his father, retired Sheriff Charlie Wells, as role models.

"My dad has been a major influence on me my entire life," Wells said. "He taught me to treat people with respect, to listen to them and always try to help. I've taken that to heart."

After graduating from the local police academy, Wells joined the department as a deputy in 1984. His father's election just months later prompted him to become a trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol.

He returned to the Sheriff's Office as a lieutenant in 2007, after his father decided to retire mid-term and Gov. …

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