scott_israel_web.jpgIn Tuesday’s primary election, only 11.27 percent of registered voters in Broward County turned out to vote in the many state and county-wide races.

After the polls closed, the Democratic battle for Broward sheriff was narrowed down to two law enforcement veterans.  In a duel that was too close to call that night, North Bay Village police chief, Scott Israel, 52, and Hollywood assistant city manager and former police officer, Richard Lemack, 49, were cautiously optimistic as they waited for the outcome.

Late Wednesday, Israel’s victory in the Democratic primary was officially declared by a margin of only 618 votes.

When reached by the South Florida Times early Wednesday, Israel declined to comment until the final vote was tallied. In an earlier email, however, he emphasized the significance of an “outsider” being able to change things at the troubled Broward Sheriff’s Office.

“As a newly elected leader from outside the organization, I will have a fresh perspective of how BSO has done its business over the years,” Israel said.

Some of that agency’s trouble involved former Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne, who is currently serving time in federal prison on public corruption charges.

Lemack did not respond to requests for comment.

Wiley Thompson, a former chief of staff at BSO and former assistant director of the FBI, ranked third among voters with slightly more than 21 percent of the vote. Thompson said he hadn’t given any consideration to comments regarding his loss.

“I’ve been de-compressing all day. I worked out — just trying to move forward. I haven’t had a chance to formulate my thoughts in terms of the talking about the campaign,” said Thompson.

Bruce Lee Udolf got 10.7 percent of the vote, and Shahrukh Dhanji pulled up the rear with 5.6 percent.  Dhanji did not return calls seeking comment.

“The only conclusion I can draw is that the people who were voted for in the race had more hands-on law enforcement experience and my experience as a prosecutor and the person with the least law enforcement experience garnered the least number of votes,” Udolf told the South Florida Times.

Israel now faces Republican incumbent Al Lamberti in November. Lamberti was appointed as interim sheriff by Gov. Charlie Crist after Jenne’s resignation.

At the time, Crist said he would continue a search for someone who could be a long-term successor in the post, rather than a caretaker, according to The Miami Herald. The governor said that Lamberti will be there “for a brief period of time” while they do a “thorough and comprehensive search” for a permanent replacement.

Lamberti’s campaign released the following statement on Thursday: “I’m glad that we finally have an opponent. I look forward to a good clean, honest race. As I’ve stated before, I’ve based my career on integrity, professionalism and I will partake in this election in the same way.”

Photo: Scott Israel