VERO BEACH, Fla. — Indian River County Sheriff's Office Maj. Eric Flowers was elected sheriff Tuesday night.
Flowers, who has worked at the Indian River County Sheriff's Office for 17 years, won with 80% of the vote against independent candidate Deborah Cooney.
Flowers celebrated his victory alongside more than 200 hundred supporters at the Indian River County Fairgrounds. The watch party included an appearance and endorsement from John Walsh, host and creator of "America's Most Wanted."
The longtime deputy told WPTV he started preparing for the job in 2012, shortly after getting married. He said he met with Sheriff Deryl Loar about replacing him once he was ready to retire.
Flowers said customer service and community relations are some of his top priorities as the next sheriff.
"There's national unrest, there’s a movement with law enforcement,” he said. "I've definitely talked about body cameras and customer service in the past, so those are two things that are a great focus of mine."
Cooney told WPTV she would be coming to the fairgrounds Tuesday night. However, Flowers said she was not welcome at the event.
Cooney released the following statement after the results:
I was invited to the watch party at the IRC Fairgrounds. I printed out my invitation and brought it with me. When I arrived, Ross Parti told me that he did not believe that I was invited. I presented the invitation, and he maintained his false belief. I explained that the Fairgrounds are open to the public. Ross said that Flowers had rented it for a private party. I asked how much he paid. No answer.
A man who identified himself as "Sergeant Rich" assaulted me and threatened to have me falsely arrested. My request to speak with Flowers was denied. "Rich" continued to stalk me as I tried to leave. I asked Rich if he was a Sergeant with the IRCSO. He refused to answer. I also asked his last name. He refused to answer.
This is the problem with the IRCSO. They do not work for the people. As I proved in a court of law, and the State of Florida admitted in a court of law, the IRCSO is involved in trafficking narcotics. It appears that Flowers will continue this criminal activity, if he wins the election.
I intend to contest the results. I have seen evidence of foul play. I would like to see the ballots, myself. I encourage volunteers to help me with the recount.
I declare vicotry for my campaign. It has been a great success. For the first time in this County, we gave the voters a choice of an honest candidate, who is not part of the cabal. We also raised awareness about the criminal conduct of our local law enforcement. This was groundbreaking.