Overwhelmed at the crowd that piled in the Freeman Justice Center last Friday, newly elected Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward personally thanked every individual who turned out for the inauguration.
“Monroe County knows what I stand for,” he said after being pinned by campaign manager Mirna Hormechea with his daughter Casey watching. “I can’t believe how humbling this is.”
Honored to swear her friend of 20 years into his elected position, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Diane Ward went on to explain that she is not Dennis’ wife, sister or cousin, just his friend, “but we have done so many things together over the years, it’s as if we were married,” since they once practiced law together.
“One thing I can tell you is that he is fiercely loyal,” she told the smiling, conch-blowing crowd. “I know that if there is something on his mind, he is going to tell you to your face no matter whom you are or where you are…if there is an injustice or someone not being treated fairly, he is going to do something about it.”
As a retired police officer, vocal Florida State Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP) President and lawyer since 1990, Diane Ward professed that everything he’s done led him to this job. “He’s not here to see convictions, but to seek justice.”
Monroe County Mayor Pro Tem Sylvia Murphy met him for lunch earlier this year and knew in thirty minutes that Dennis Ward was the guy for the job.
“If we can get him to smile a little more and take the edge off his cop’s attitude, then this guy is electable,” she said. “It was his smile that did it.”
She then continued to say that despite the fact that Ward is tall and handsome, he was elected because the people of Monroe County trust him.
She looked over at Ward, pointed her finger and with a smile said, “And, from this point on, do not ever disappoint me.”
As Monroe County State Attorney, Ward will be responsible for overseeing the prosecution of all criminal cases and investigations, supervising the assistant State Attorneys, and performing duties before the grand jury. He also breaks his time up between the three offices Keyswide.
Village of Islamorada Mayor Cathi Hill added that it was safe to say he wasn’t elected because of his tender charm, but his long history of civil service.
“When he acts he will have my confidence and when he speaks, he will have everyone’s confidence,” she said. “Dennis Ward is the right man to lead us into the challenges ahead. He has the best wishes from me and the people of Islamorada.”
Miami Beach Police Chief and longtime friend of Ward, Carlos Noriega, walked up to the podium with nothing prepared and confessed he didn’t know what he should have worn and was hoping for shorts and a tee shirt rather than his police uniform.
He repeated a story that summed Dennis Ward’s persona perfectly. While on the same softball league in Miami, Noriega missed a routine fly ball. Ward’s passion for the game showed through and play came to a screeching halt while the two “discussed” how Noriega could have missed such a no-brainer.
“Whatever he does, he does it with that kind of vigor,” Noriega said.
Ward, reaction with a smile, said, “For the record, I had a no-hitter going.”
Before the ceremony, Dennis Ward walked around to each person in the crowd, thanked them for being there, shook hands and gave hugs. He started his four-year term as Monroe County State Attorney last Tuesday.