The former deputy sergeant wins the seat on his second try, after being fired by the current sheriff for running for the position.
Marco López has become the first Puerto Rican sheriff in the history of Osceola county.
This was the second time the former deputy sergeant ran for sheriff, after an unsuccessful attempt in 2016.
“Growing up here, I’ve seen the diverse culture come up and I think [my win] is gonna benefit all people from all different ethnicities,” López told The Americano in Kissimmee on the night of his election.
López, who was the Democratic candidate, prevailed over another Puerto Rican, Luis “Tony” Fernández, a retired deputy who ran as an independent candidate.
On Wednesday morning, López thanked his supporters. “Good morning and thank you all for the support. I could not have done it without your vote. God bless,” López wrote on his Facebook page.
In September, López told The Americano what it would mean for him to become the first Puerto Rican sheriff in Central Florida.
“I’m proud to be Puerto Rican,” López said back then. “They say there are Puerto Ricans even on the moon, and when I win in November, there will be a Puerto Rican sheriff in Osceola county—that’s historic. Central Florida has had a [Hispanic] chief of police, but not a sheriff, so this will be a great source of pride for me.”
For López, this victory has an additional special meaning, because when he announced on May 19 that he would once more run for the position, his boss, current Sheriff Russ Gibson, fired him from the Sheriff’s Office, where he had worked for 17 years.
The former deputy did not appeal Gibson’s decision in court, preferring instead to support his family with his veteran’s pension while focusing his efforts on the campaign.
“My options were to take him to court or get him out of the sheriff’s chair,” López said. “With a lot of effort, a little money, a lot of work, and a lot of good volunteers, we got it. We knocked on the doors of 15,000 Osceola County citizens.”
López prevailed in the primaries, taking Gibson out of the race.
Before working in the Sheriff’s Office, López served in the United States Navy for 20 years. He owns a security service business.
He said he will work equally for all the communities in the county as sheriff.
“I want to implement cultural and educational programs so everyone is adequately represented,” López said. “We are going to employ more bilingual people, which is necessary. Right now, in the police department, 28% of employees are bilingual, while the Latin community represents 60% of the population.”