Todd Baxter is shocked by the margin of his victory in Tuesday's election for Monroe County Sheriff.
The Democrat thought his race against a four-term, well financed Republican incumbent would be neck and neck. Instead, Baxter beat Patrick O'Flynn by 14 percentage points.
"When the numbers started rolling in, I was flabbergasted,” Baxter said. “We were so surprised and so, so grateful that the community came out with that much support."
He credits his grassroots campaign, managed by his wife and two adult sons, for the win. Baxter said he plans to bring a new leadership style to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
"I don't want a bunch of Todd Baxter robots. I want people who have opinions, who have things they want to argue for. I want people who are going to stand up to me and say 'Sheriff, I think we're doing it wrong. I think we should go down this road.' At the end of the day, I'll make decisions as the boss but I love having those people around me who will question me and challenge me sometimes."
Baxter ran as a Democrat, but he switched from the Republican Party only six months ago. He said when he is sworn in as Monroe County's chief law enforcement officer in January, he'll be swearing allegiance to the Constitution, not to a political party.
"If you want to say Todd Baxter voted for Trump, that's one thing, but what does that have to do with people who are stuck in the opioid crisis? We lost 169 of them last year. Is that a Republican or Democratic value? Not even close."
Baxter said he has Conservative slants on certain things and Liberal slants on other things, but his chief concern is enforcing the law.