Lakesha Burton will not run for sheriff in the March Unitary Election.
The former Sheriff’s candidate announced her decision Wednesday morning at the Johnnie Walker Community Center where she says her career began 25 years ago.
Burton said the decision came down to the lack of stability at the top of JSO over the past year, her prospects of winning and also the consideration of her family.
“Through my candidacy, I pray that it inspired people to take risks and challenge this whole political arena, and if I can be honest, when I got in this race I got in this race because I felt like I could make a difference. So, I’m proud in that difference that I made,” said Burton.
UNF political Science professor Sean Freeder said Burton’s announcement makes it likely Sheriff TK Waters will run unopposed in the upcoming election and secure his first full four-year term.
“When the person that just ran in the general election is saying I don’t think this is a winnable race for me, you are sending a pretty big public signal to anyone else that would want to enter into that race that maybe not,” said Freeder.
Freeder added while Burton may not have been able to pull off a victory in November, her candidacy did help steer the conversation in the race towards community policing, transparency and accountability.
“So, I think that is one of the rosy outcomes of a well-run election is that you get to actually impact the policy somewhat even if you don’t actually win,” said Freeder.
Burton thanked the 145,000 plus voters that supported her in the November runoff, adding she plans to continue to serve the community, even if it may not be in an official capacity.
While she said she plans to support Sheriff Waters, she called on him to release a detailed comprehensive plan for addressing violent crime in the city and to make room at the table for the city’s diverse communities.
“At one point he said that we were going in the right direction and now he sees that we weren’t and he’s putting the proper things in place to make sure that we go in the right direction. But it’s not enough just to say it. We’ve got to make sure that we hold him accountable and that he does it,” said Burton.
Water’s campaign declined to comment on Burton’s announcement, but Burton said she’d reached out to Waters personally and had a civil exchange with the Sheriff.
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