Jacksonville Sheriff candidate T.K. Waters won’t talk

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Despite scooping up high-profile endorsements, Sheriff candidate T.K. Waters is keeping a studiously low profile.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The video above is from a previous report. 

Jacksonville Sheriff candidate T.K. Waters picked up another key endorsement Friday from the only other Republican in the race. JSO Chief of Special Events Mat Nemeth announced he was dropping out of the Aug. 23 special election and endorsing Waters.

Waters, JSO’s chief of investigations, was previously endorsed by Mike Williams (when he was still sheriff), and former Sheriff and current U.S. Rep. John Rutherford. He was also endorsed by Governor Ron DeSantis at that event in Jacksonville at which DeSantis said Waters was, “my man right there.” 

Despite the high-profile endorsements, Waters himself has been keeping a studiously low profile. He was the only candidate not to appear at June 1 candidate forum. 

First Coast News reached out to Waters a dozen times over a period of two weeks seeking comment about, among other things, his gubernatorial endorsement and controversy surrounding Williams’ sudden resignation. Williams quit June 10 after it became clear that he’d been living out of county for more than a year, in violation of the city charter.

RELATED: Sheriff retires for violating city charter’s residency requirements 

Waters did return a phone call on June 13, only to say he would not be commenting until his retirement, which he said would occur in “early July.”

“All that stuff will be coming, I’m just not doing that right now,” Waters said. “I will discuss that all with you when I retire.”

First Coast News emphasized a desire to speak to him before then, noting the urgent but transitory nature of news like the sheriff’s retirement. 

“I am working right now you understand that, right? As soon as I’m not working I will talk to you,” he said. “It’s not that I’m not able to talk, I have a job to do, and I am going to focus on my career.”

First Coast News asked how long Williams has known that the sheriff was living out of county in violation of the city charter. He said, “Seriously, I am going to discuss all of that a later date.”

First Coast News reached out to Waters again Friday morning following the Nemeth endorsement, and as of this time has not heard back. 

Williams has raised the most of the five candidates in the race with $319,000 in hard money donations. His committee A Safer Jacksonville For All has raised more than $911,000.

Former JSO Assistant Chief of Community Engagement and Executive Director of the Police Athletic League Lakesha Burton, is in second place, having raised $208,000 in hard money donations and more than $916,000 through her committee Make Every Voice Count. 

Ken Jefferson has raised over $56,000, Wayne Clark has raised over $33,000 and Nemeth had raised more than $99,000 before dropping out Friday morning.

If no candidate claims more than 50 percent in the August primary, they will head to a runoff Nov. 8. Whoever wins that race will hold office until the end of Williams’ original term, June 30, 2023. If they want to hold the seat beyond that, however, they must win in the regularly scheduled city elections in March 21, 2023.



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