Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams is resigning his office effective June 10 in the wake of questions about his move to Nassau County, a violation of the city charter.
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.” Williams moved his home out the county, bringing the question into play.
Williams would have been termed out in a year anyway, but his Thursday decision to resign came after days of controversy over a move the second-term Republican actually made last year.
It also came after City Council President Sam Newby solicited an opinion by Thursday from General Counsel Jason Teal on whether Williams effectively vacated the office. Newby rescinded the request for opinion, though a draft copy shows the legal advice was to declare the office vacant as of June 2, rather than giving Williams the extra time.
Sheriff Williams has backed Chief T.K. Waters to replace him in the 2023 election, something that likely will be moved up, at least in the form of a Special Election to be set by the City Council meeting Monday. The First Election could coincide with the August Primary, while the runoff or General Election could be in November.
Similar elections are already in play in City Council Districts 7 and 9, where incumbents Reggie Gaffney and Garrett Dennis are involved in competitive Democratic Primary races for state offices.
The term-limited sheriff got over 60% of the vote in his 2019 re-election.
Gov. Ron DeSantis could appoint an interim Sheriff until an election is held. Speculation suggests Waters would be Williams’ favorite. The Governor’s Office did not telegraph its next move in a statement Thursday.
“We thank Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams for his years of service dedicated to serving and protecting the residents of Duval County. We will let you know if or when we have any further updates.”
More locally, reactions both pro and con began to manifest as the news of Williams’ retirement spread.
Kent Stermon, a key supporter and friend of Williams and Gov. DeSantis, lauded the Sheriff on a personal and professional basis: “You are an awesome sheriff. You are an even better husband, father and friend. There is no description I am prouder of than being called your friend. Thanks for 30-plus amazing years to our community.”
Rep. Tracie Davis was somewhat less complimentary: “Jacksonville needs a sheriff that stands for all of us and is part of our community. Sheriff Williams has been operating out of the county for over a year, and whoever is appointed will not be able to fix that breach of trust.”
Democratic mayoral candidate Donna Deegan urged the appointment of a non-candidate to serve in Williams’ absence, saying “the Governor must appoint an interim sheriff who is not running for the office. Our public safety is too important for politics to drive this decision.”
One party who was initially slower to respond eventually came through. Mayor Lenny Curry defended Williams’ job performance this week.
“We will reserve comment until OGC issues their response,” asserted spokesperson Nikki Kimbleton.
Curry offered a second statement via Kimbleton later Thursday morning: “I have worked closely with Sheriff Williams for the last seven years through many crucial situations including mass shootings, hurricanes, violent crime initiatives, investing in our children and much more. Mike is always engaged and he’s always involved. He’s given three decades of exceptional service to the people of Jacksonville. I wish him well in retirement and I look forward to working with our next sheriff to continue addressing many of Jacksonville’s most important concerns.”
State Attorney Melissa Nelson offered a statement also: “Sheriff Mike Williams has a long and honored record of service in law enforcement. He has been a trusted partner to the State Attorney’s Office in the fight against violent crime his entire career. Having worked closely with him over the last several years, I know firsthand of his genuine commitment to making our city safer and the lives of its residents better. His leadership will be missed. I wish him and his family all the best in his retirement.”
.@jsosheriff announces his retirement from #JSO after 31 years of dedicated service to the #CityofJacksonville pic.twitter.com/G8F4zEPOkw
— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) June 2, 2022
June 2, 2022 at 10:02 am
Must’ve been your jaxtoday column this morning that sealed the deal. Can we still expect the OGC to make a ruling or will they look the other way? Is it politically advantageous for Ronnie to weigh in now?? So many questions.
LETS ELECT MAT NEMETH
June 2, 2022 at 11:12 am
LETS ELECT Mat Nemeth FOR SHERIFF, HE WILL NOT GIVE IN TO THE DEMANDS OF BLACK LIVES MATTER AND Ben Frazier AND THE NORTHSIDE COALITION
Comments are closed.