Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly to Run for Re-Election; Larry Jones Will Challenge a Third Time


BUNNELL – Incumbent Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly has filed to run for a third term in office, per the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections website. For the third time in as many runs, he will square off against retired FCSO Sergeant Larry Jones, who confirmed his intent to run on Wednesday via text message.

Staly, a decades-tenured law enforcement officer who served as Undersheriff in the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office from 2013 to 2015. In 2016 he ran for Flagler County Sheriff against fellow Republicans John Lamb, Jerry O’Gara, Mark Whisenant, Chris Yates, and Don Fleming, the latter of whom served two terms as Flagler Sheriff from 2005 to 2013. He won the Republican primary by a mere 502 votes out of 11,472, advancing to the general election.

The 2016 general election pitted Staly against Larry Jones, who unseated incumbent Sheriff Jim Manfre in the Democratic primary election. Incumbent Thomas Dougherty also ran. Staly won the job handily, and has served in the role ever since. The two had a rematch in 2020, where Staly dispatched Jones by a wider margin than the first time around. Now, Jones wants a third try at besting his incumbent opponent.

The political rivalry between Staly and Jones has not been limited to the repeated elections the pair have been in together. In 2021 Staly cut all FCSO affiliation with a Christmas event called ‘Christmas with a Deputy’ that had been run by Jones since 2008. He replaced the event with his own ‘Shop with a Cop’, and Jones maintained his own original event without participation from the FCSO, now calling it ‘Christmas with Community Heroes’. The events both take place each holiday season, with participants donating to let underprivileged children buy toys at Palm Coast’s Walmart.

“When I ran for Sheriff, I made a commitment to reduce crime in our community, focus on our youth and drugs, crime prevention and professionalize and modernize the Sheriff’s Office,” Staly said in a release announcing his campaign. “Promises that were delivered! […] However, with the fast growth of Flagler County there is still more work to be done to remain one of the safest communities in our region and state.”

Jones will have an uphill battle facing not only Staly but any other potential competitors who may enter the race between now and the cutoff. Staly has remained a relatively popular sheriff, moreso than his immediate few predecessors. If he secures a third term he’d be the first Flagler Sheriff to do so since Bob McCarthy, who held the job from 1983 to 2001.

Another of Flagler County’s most popular law enforcement officers, Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney, has entirely ruled out a run in the 2024 Flagler Sheriff election. Asked whether he has any intention of running, two-term sheriff Jim Manfre also declared he would not be entering the field.