Duval County

Mike Williams retiring: Here’s what candidates running for Jacksonville sheriff in 2023 had to say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After much debate about how his residency in Nassau County would affect the office he holds, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams announced Thursday that he would retire from office on Friday, June 10 to avoid a court battle.

Term-limited Williams had one more year left as sheriff. He originally told Action News Jax last week that he has no plans to resign and would fight being ousted in court.

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Action News Jax obtained a copy of a draft opinion from the Office of General Counsel, which had made the determination that the office of Jacksonville sheriff is vacant as of 2 p.m. That opinion ended up not being officially issued since Williams announced his retirement.

Action News Jax reached out to all the candidates who have filed to run for sheriff in the 2023 Unitary Election Cycle about Williams’ retirement. Here’s what they had to say:

Lakesha Burton (D):

“Sheriff Williams has had a tremendous career of service. I respect his decision to retire and I wish him and his family the best. My focus remains on the reason I decided to run to be your next sheriff – the urgent need for change in Jacksonville. The sooner that change begins, the better.

It’s time for a new approach to leading the men and women of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, time to build stronger relationships between JSO and the community so we can fight violent crime together. I’m ready to be the sheriff that Jacksonville deserves, ready to lead our city — Forward Together — toward the better day we all so badly want.”

Wayne Clark (D):

“It is very unfortunate for Sheriff Williams to end his career this way. We appreciate his 31 years of service. To be one of the top leaders in this city requires knowing all of the rules of the elected office. The City Charter has long established that all elected officials must live in the county during their elected term.

“To be a leader in this city demands that you live in this city. I have lived my entire life in Jacksonville, and I plan to continue living in Jacksonville.

“I think the Governor should not appoint any of the current candidates as the interim Sheriff, rather choose someone outside, or elevate the Undersheriff until the citizens decide their choice during the special election.”

Wayne Clark

Tony Cummings (D):

“I am running to become your next elected sheriff because the citizens of Jacksonville, Florida have endured enough trauma in the past 7-years under Sheriff Mike Williams’ leadership, or the lack thereof. Abandoning the citizens of Jacksonville is NEVER an okay option for any elected official, much less the city’s top cop. I pray that the citizens are BOLD enough to reject the establishment’s handpicked candidate this election cycle, because this sheriff, in his abandonment of our city, has left far too much work to be done. It’s time to turn the page on this sad and humiliating chapter in our city’s history.”

Ken Jefferson (D):

“In an effort for a better Jacksonville, we must have and keep a mindset that allows us to work together.

“By working together, we can achieve anything. There will be challenges and we may not agree on everything but we can develop a stronger community if we seek to understand each other and work together.

“It’s preposterous for us to believe, we are going to get better with anyone who stands with, or supports leadership that operates in dishonesty.

“We need to understand that in all things truth prevails.

“Truth has prevailed and revealed that the heart of our current leadership checked out some time ago.

“I believe, this Sheriff has resigned being fully aware of said consequences. There is a level of respect and transparency that is needed for leadership. We can no longer expect law-abiding citizens to conduct themselves in harmony with the law and we are in violation.

“Jacksonville deserves equal and fair leadership straight across the board. I believe we are in a crucial place in our society where many have suffered long enough.

“Crime has increased under the current leadership. Many have been overlooked in times when they needed someone the most. This is our opportunity to make a change!

“This change includes leadership you can trust that will not abandon or disrespect this office.

“This includes holding anyone who violates the law accountable for their actions.

“I believe this is an opportunity for us to instigate change and move our city in the direction of safety.

“We cannot allow the current leadership or anyone that they endorse to interrupt the moment that has been forced on us.

“It’s time for us to understand that change is needed and necessary. We can get better, we will get better and with my leadership, we will make Jacksonville a better place to live. Let’s work together!!!!!!!!”

Mat Nemeth (R):

Nemeth did not issue a statement, but Action News Jax spoke to him on the phone and thanked Williams for his service and wishes him all the best.

Mathew Nemeth

Action News Jax has also reached out to candidate Thomas “TK” Waters (R) and we are waiting to hear back.

Earlier this week, we asked all of the candidates running for sheriff, “If elected, will you live in Duval County or do you already live in Duval?” All candidates answered “yes.”

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