Pendergrass won’t seek 9th term as sheriff

Aug. 30, 2013 @ 12:44 PM

Lindy Pendergrass, who has been the sheriff of Orange County since 1982, will not run for a ninth term as sheriff.
“Absolutely not,” Pendergrass said when asked about his plans. “Time to go home.”
The 79-year-old sheriff was first elected sheriff in 1982 and was re-elected seven more times. He was last re-elected in 2010 to serve four years, and his term will end after 32 years of service after a new sheriff is elected in November 2014.
“I’ve done all I could for anybody anytime and certainly this is a position that I tried to do everything I could to be responsive to every citizen and not have anything that would put the department in a bad light at any time,” he said.
Sitting in his office Thursday, Pendergrass remembered some of the cases he and his investigators solved over the years.
“We’ve had many cases that were puzzling,” he said.
He remembered two especially because the victims went missing in the mid-1980s and it took more than a year to find their bodies and make arrests in the cases.
One was single mother who disappeared from her home outside Hillsborough, her young son left behind. The other was a man and his teenage helper who disappeared while working on a fence in eastern Orange County near Interstate 85.
Pendergrass and the investigators were able to eventually crack the cases and retrieve the bodies for their families. Their killers are serving life sentences.
Through those years, the sheriff’s office has been able to solve every homicide except two, Pendergrass said. One was a man who was beaten to death in a shed where he stayed and the other was a drive-by shooting.
“We want to solve those in the worst way,” Pendergrass said.
Pendergrass also was proud of the way he handled the yearly budget process, which went through the county manager’s office and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
“I never asked for anything unless it was absolutely needed,” he said.
“This department here is an outstanding sheriff’s office,” he said. “These men and women are dedicated and they work hard every day.”
“Most of the citizens in Orange County know how hard they work, and they’re dedicated and they support us real good,” Pendergrass said.
The filing period for anyone who wants to run for sheriff of Orange County begins at noon on Feb. 10 and ends at noon on Feb. 28 next year. The primary is May 6, 2014, and the general election is Nov. 4, 2014.