Val Demings announces candidacy for Orange County Mayor's seat



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The woman who used to run Orlando's police department, may be facing an uphill battle in her plan to run for Orange County Mayor.

Val Demings made the official announcement of her candidacy at a gathering at Lake Eola Thursday afternoon.

Demings was surrounded by supporters, including some Orange County firefighters, Orange County corrections officers, and was introduced by the president of the Community Business Association.

Demings how she, the daughter of a maid, worked her way up the ranks at the Orlando Police Department, ultimately becoming its first female police chief. She said she is the only police chief to cut city crime by 40 percent.

"If you manage 1,000 law enforcement employees and cut crime and corruption, I know we can make it," said Demings.

Channel 9's Kathi Belich has learned that Deming is nearly $500,000 behind Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs in campaign funding.

Demings outspent her opponent U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster when she ran for Congress in 2012.

Demings told Belich that in this campaign she will be taking a grassroots approach. She said that is the approach that paid off for Webster in their congressional race. 

But Demings is just getting started raising campaign funds.

Earlier Thursday Demings spoke with Channel 9's Greg Warmoth and said she believes she will have grassroots support from people in the community who urged her to run, to give them a voice.

"People who go to work every day, people who work hard and struggle just to keep a roof over their head and put food on the table, people whose income is below the poverty line," said Demings.

Demings' police department pension tops $100,000. The mayor's job pays more than $150,000 a year.

Deming's husband Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings was at her side during her announcement.

Some have raised questions about whether that could present a conflict of interest.