Did Sheriff Williams Break the Law?

Twitter was on fire yesterday with the big news that Sheriff Mike Williams had moved to Nassau County and no longer was a resident of Duval County. That information seemed odd because Mike Williams is the Sheriff of Duval County!
Eye reached out to Sheriff Williams to get his side of the story. He responded quickly and told Eye that he had indeed moved to Nassau County where he planned to retire.
Sheriff Williams provided Eye with a link to a document from Maria Matthews, Esq., Director of the Division of Elections in 2018. You can find the link here. https://files.floridados.gov/media/700114/de1811.pdf
In summary it states,
“A candidate for county sheriff who resides in and is a registered voter in one county may lawfully complete the candidate oath by indicating the county wherein he or she is registered to vote when running for sheriff in another county. No residency requirements exist for a county sheriff other than those required by being a qualified elector, i.e., being a legal resident of Florida and of the county in which the sheriff is registered to vote. A candidate for sheriff must satisfy the requirement of being a resident of the county in which the candidate is registered to vote at the time of the commencement of term of office as sheriff; thereafter, the sheriff must be a legal resident in whatever county the sheriff is registered to vote.”
Eye is waiting to hear back from the Office of General Counsel to see if State law supersedes Jacksonville’s City Charter that does require residency. See City Charter information here.
We did reach out to two local attorneys since the city’s attorney had closed up early for the long Memorial Day weekend. We got two very different “takes” and one believes State law trumps city laws and the other believes it doesn’t.
Sheriff Williams was upfront about his decision to move to Nassau County and feels very confident he has done nothing wrong legally.
I guess we shall see what happens when legal opinions fly next week.
What’s legal is one thing. However, the court of public opinion sees Sheriff Mike Williams’ decision differently. The public thinks the optics of a sheriff living elsewhere isn’t good and speaks volumes about the city he manages. Being personally invested in the community you serve seems the common sense thing to do. But hey that’s our opinion — what say you?

Billie Tucker Volpe

Billie Tucker Volpe Founder of Eye on Jacksonville and Leadership Consultant to CEOs/Executives.

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