Gov. Ron DeSantis says he will ‘elevate’ Undersheriff Pat Ivey to be Jacksonville’s interim sheriff

DeSantis also said he endorses TK Waters for sheriff in the election

Governor Ron DeSantis announced he’ll be appointing Undersheriff Pat Ivey to lead JSO until voters decide on a sheriff to finish out Sheriff Mike Williams’ term.

He said his pick comes down to continuity.

“Pat is very, very highly regarded, recommended. I think he’s going to... have respect from people from day one and I think he’ll be able to continue the work that the department’s doing without having major interruptions,” said DeSantis.

The appointment is expected to be made official once Sheriff Williams retires Friday.

The early retirement was sparked when it came to light Williams had moved out of Duval County more than a year ago, violating the city charter.

The sheriff had contended early on state law allowed him to move out of the county, but a draft opinion by the city’s General Counsel found otherwise.

Williams doubled down on his decision to move to Nassau County Monday.

“Listen, I’m not gonna rehash all that, but again at the end of the day when it came time to make that decision, I think I made the right decision for me and my family,” said Williams.

At a city council meeting later in the day, General Counsel Jason Teal explained why he determined the sheriff’s compensation and actions during his year living out of the county were legitimate.

He said because Williams was still showing up for work, he was acting as a “defacto official.”

“The defacto doctrine springs from the fear of the chaos that would result from multiple and repetitious lawsuits challenging every action taken by every official whose claim to office could be open to question,” said Teal.

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But even with the defacto status, Teal acknowledged lawsuits could still be coming down the pike.

“If somebody wants to expend the resources to do that, they think that it’s worth it, then obviously we’ll respond, and I think they’ll know what our defenses are going to be,” said Teal.

The governor made another big announcement Monday, endorsing TK Waters for the upcoming special election for sheriff.

Waters is also the favorite of outgoing Sheriff Mike Williams.

The endorsement from the governor is likely going to bode well for TK Waters.

“I think he’s got a tremendous background. I think he’s been involved in various levels of law enforcement and I think he would provide really excellent leadership,” said DeSantis.

City council made official the dates of the special election Monday.

Qualifying will start at noon Friday and close at noon next Friday.

The first election will be held the same day as the upcoming Primary Election on August 23.

If no candidate secures 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held on November 8, the same day as the General Election.

The winner will serve from January 1 until the previously scheduled sheriff’s race concludes.

“Folks that don’t do well at all in these elections are less inclined to run again in March,” said UNF political science professor Dr. Michael Binder.

Binder told us securing a win in the special election will carry a lot of weight towards locking in a full four-year term in the March election.

“Maybe they run unopposed. There’s a lot of things that can happen and being on the losing side makes people recalibrate if they want to go through the effort. Can they tap into those resources to raise money?” said Binder.

Ivey will likely serve as sheriff through January first.

“You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in six months,” said Ivey.

It’s a six-month term he’s not taking lightly.

“We will have over a half a million interactions with the citizens of Jacksonville in a six-month period if we continue on the trend that we have and some of those are very positive interactions. So, there’s a lot of work day in and day out, make sure that the men and women hey, great men and women that work for the agency, keep them on course and whoever the next sheriff is that is elected then they can carry it on,” said Ivey.

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