Jacksonville’s Sheriff, born and raised in Jacksonville, no longer lives in the city, which presents a serious problem according to one interpretation of the city Charter.
Republican Mike Williams now resides in Nassau County, having sold his Duval property, as first reported Friday by The Tributary.
“Currently, I do not live in Jacksonville and plan to stay outside of Jacksonville in Nassau County when I retire,” Williams said to First Coast News.
The charter says that if “the Sheriff should die, resign, or remove his residence from Duval County during his term of office, or be removed from office, the office of sheriff shall become vacant.”
City Council President Sam Newby seeks an opinion by Wednesday from General Counsel Jason Teal on whether Williams effectively vacated the office when his household vacated Duval County.
“I had no idea. I was really surprised. I personally think that he should live in Jacksonville,” Newby told First Coast News.
On Monday, Mayor Lenny Curry offered a defense of the “engaged” Sheriff, not addressing the Sheriff’s seeming noncompliance with the charter provision.
“He is always engaged, present, and cares deeply about this community,” Curry tweeted.
A 2018 ruling by the Secretary of State’s Office in the case of Jefferson County’s Mac McNeil, an appointee who lived outside the county, contended that it was sufficient that McNeil be the resident of another county (Leon) if he wanted to run for Sheriff in Jefferson County. However, that ruling did not go against a charter provision expressing the county’s will on local residency.
Sheriff Williams backs Chief T.K. Waters to replace him in the 2023 election, something that could be moved up should Williams vacate the office. The First Election could coincide with the August Primary, while the runoff or General Election could be in November.
Williams is term-limited. He got over 60% of the vote in his 2019 re-election.
Gov. Ron DeSantis could appoint an interim Sheriff until an election is held.
Political opponents are piqued, meanwhile.
“As violent crime increases every day, our Sheriff secretly sold his Oceanway home a year ago and moved to Nassau County. Leaving his former city unprotected as he continues to collect his $181K salary,” asserted Duval Democratic Chair Daniel Henry.
“The charter is clear. Duval’s elected Sheriff must live within the county boundaries — full stop. Any argument otherwise plainly violates the charter and is ripe for a legal challenge. In anticipation of the General Counsel’s binding opinion affirming the vacancy, we look forward to the City Council promptly calling an August Special Election.”