Jacksonville City Council to call Special Election for Sheriff
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams. Image via Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

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Mike Williams is retiring from office over a charter violation.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams‘ retirement goes into effect June 10, and on Monday the City Council will approve a Special Election in a special meeting.

The election will see Republicans and Democrats on one ballot in the First Election, which will be during the August Primary. The top two finishers will have a runoff in the November General Election. This will be similar structurally to two other special elections this year for impending vacancies on the City Council itself.

Williams would have been term-limited this year but reporting of his residency outside the county established the sheriff was violating the local charter. He resigned before a General Counsel memo would have dropped, declaring the office vacant as of June 2.

Expect discussion on the mechanics of the sheriff’s retirement, including issues like whether the city should attempt to claw back pension or other benefits conferred when Williams illegally lived outside the county for more than a year. There also may be a move to take that aforementioned draft copy of a memo and formalize it as a statement of the city itself on non-compliant employment.

Sheriff Williams has backed Chief T.K. Waters to replace him in the 2023 election, and amid speculation that Gov. Ron DeSantis may appoint him as the interim sheriff, Waters has said he plans to retire from active duty this summer.

Waters is the leading fundraiser in the race, which already was in full swing for the 2023 ballot, but now will see an accelerated timeframe to elect a sheriff even though next year’s election will still proceed as scheduled. Waters has more than $260,000 on hand in hard money. His political committee, A Safer Jacksonville for All, has more than $830,000 raised and almost $800,000 on hand.

Democrat Lakesha Burton is close behind.

Burton’s state-level Make Every Voice Count political committee has raised more than $861,000 and has more than $855,000 on hand. Burton also has $147,000 on hand in her campaign account.

Other candidates in the field aren’t matching Burton and Waters. Republican Mat Nemeth has a little more than $65,000, good for third place in fundraising.

Behind Nemeth are three Democrats, two of whom have run before.

Ken Jefferson, a former spokesperson for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, lost narrowly to term-limited incumbent Mike Williams in 2015’s General Election. Jefferson has raised a little more than $46,000 but has spent over $20,000 of that sum already.

Wayne Clark has raised over $32,000 as a candidate and has spent more than $28,000 of that.

Tony Cummings, who has run twice before, has raised a few hundred dollars so far.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

One comment

  • Frankie M.

    June 6, 2022 at 8:47 am

    City Council may call a special election for sheriff or they shall call a special election for sheriff? Word choice is important.

Comments are closed.


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