If 2008's election for Collier County sheriff was ugly, things could get a lot more interesting this year, one former candidate said.
"I was nice last time," said Victor Ortino, who ran for sheriff in 2008 and said Wednesday he intended to run again. "I held back. This time I'm just going to let everything out."
His announcement that he would run for sheriff was conditional, however.
Ortino said he would file his paperwork "at the latest, by the 16th" unless current Sheriff Kevin Rambosk chooses not to seek reelection and one of three current chiefs — Scott Salley, Greg Smith or Jim Bloom — runs instead.
But Rambosk said Wednesday that he did intend to file for reelection, and Salley, Smith and Bloom all said they had no intention of running.
In that case, it appears the 2012 race could be a repeat of 2008, pitting Rambosk, now the incumbent sheriff, against Ortino and Vincent "Vinny" Angiolillo, who is the only candidate to have officially filed with the Collier County Supervisor of Elections for this year's race.
In their 2008 campaigns, underdogs Ortino and Angiolillo alleged corruption within the Sheriff's Office and misconduct by Rambosk. After a bruising campaign, Rambosk ended up winning nearly 75 percent of the vote, compared to about 20 percent for Ortino and 5 percent for Angiolillo.
On Wednesday, Angiolillo said he would continue his "anti-incumbent sessions," wherein he broadcasts speeches by non-incumbents like himself over the Internet, "circumventing the Republican and Democratic process."
"This time, he doesn't have a chance," he said of Rambosk.
Ortino said he also planned to play hardball this time around by releasing information about "many cases of flagrant wrongdoing by Rambosk" and "many other documented acts of corruption directly related to him."
"Just that alone should be enough to beat him," Ortino said.
Ortino's website accuses Rambosk of having knowledge in 2008 that Sheriff's Office employees were campaigning for him on the clock, but doing nothing to stop it. It adds that "we can only estimate that at least a quarter of a million dollars of your tax money was used to fund his personal campaign. The actual amount was most likely much higher."
Rambosk said Wednesday the figure appeared to be "created by Mr. Ortino."
"None of the complaints that were filed against me in the last election have been sustained," Rambosk said. "I think it is important that the public does know that each of these instances was independently investigated."
As the incumbent sheriff, Rambosk said he was "clearly distinct from the other candidates" in terms of qualifications.
Neither Ortino, a private investigator, nor Angiolillo, a limousine driver and local businessman, has been employed in an official law enforcement position in decades. Ortino worked as a Florida Highway Patrol trooper for about three years in the early 1980s, while Angiolillo served as a state police officer in Connecticut in the late 1970s.
"The performance of what we've done is clear credentials," Rambosk said. "I am still more qualified than any of the other candidates based on education, work experience and work history, and my volunteer service throughout the years."
But Ortino said his experience as a private investigator was qualification enough.
"I have no worries with that because I work every day with the judicial system," he said.
Angiolillo is qualified, he said, because he is "an honest person" who has worked with the FBI, the CIA and the U.S. Secret Service. Angiolillo worked in security for several corporations in the 1980s and early 1990s.
A video on his campaign website that shows a pile of excrement says he is a "no B.S." candidate.
Angiolillo said Wednesday he is running on a "common sense" platform that involves not accepting campaign donations ("I consider them a bribe"), agreeing to a first-year sheriff's salary of $1 and scrapping the Sheriff's Office's anti-bullying program that allows students to text tips straight to law enforcement.
Instead, Angiolillo said he would "personally set up a boxing match for the individual being bullied and the individual doing the bullying." After duking it out in a safe and supervised public setting, a winner would be declared, and the students would "shake hands and they become friends for life and nobody gets killed."
Rambosk disagreed with Angiolillo's suggested approach and said the Sheriff's Office program was working fine.
"From the professional periodicals I've read on bullying, none would refer to that confrontational approach of physical contact," he said.