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Jacksonville sheriff candidate Lakesha Burton challenges T.K. Waters to three debates before runoff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Lakesha Burton, the Democratic candidate for Jacksonville sheriff, challenged her Republican opponent, T.K. Waters, to a series of three debates ahead of the November runoff election.

Burton said in a release issued Sunday that she hopes planning for the proposed debates will begin right away.

Burton is asking for local, nonpartisan, independent organizations to host the debates.

Groups identified in the release include JU’s Public Policy Institute, the League of Women Voters and the Jacksonville Bar Association.

The call comes less than one week after Burton secured her spot in the November runoff election.

“I look forward to debating Mr. Waters in settings that allow the public to clearly understand the differences between how he and I would address crime and community relationships in our city as Jacksonville’s next sheriff,” Burton said in the Sunday release.

Burton was unavailable for an interview Sunday evening, but on election night, she indicated her main focus as sheriff would be reducing crime and changing the culture of the department.

“Seventy percent of the agency have seven years or less on the streets. We’ve hired over 1,000 police officers. They’re younger, they’re more innovative, they’re working with the latest technology and they need a new type of leader, a new style of leader who will really focus on changing the culture of the police department from the inside out,” Burton said.

Burton secured just under 33% of the vote last Tuesday, while Waters pulled nearly 47%.

Burton competed against three other Democrats, while Waters was the only Republican on the ballot.

In all, the four Democratic candidates combined secured 12,275 more votes than Waters.

On election night, Waters made a pitch to convince those who voted for a Democratic candidate in the primary election to consider supporting him in the runoff.

“I’ve spent time all over this city, taking care of people all over this city no matter where you live, no matter what you believe, no matter where your political stance is, and I’m ready to do that for every member of this community,” Waters said. “I just want to make sure people understand that I am here to take care of everyone in this city and we’ve done it.”

It’s unclear whether Waters will agree to the debates.

We reached out to Waters’ campaign Sunday evening but didn’t hear back before this story’s publishing.

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