Meet the candidates running for Jacksonville sheriff in the 2022 special election

Five candidates remain in the race for Jacksonville sheriff after Mat Nemeth announced Friday he is dropping out and endorsing fellow Republican and JSO Chief of Investigations T.K. Waters.

Waters—now the lone Republican—will face off against four Democratic candidates in a special election scheduled for August 23. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent in the primary, they will head to a runoff November 8.


T.K. Waters, Republican

Waters has served over 30 years in law enforcement. Has worked as JSO’s chief of investigations since 2019.

He has received endorsements from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Rep. John Rutherford, and former sheriff Mike Williams.

Waters’ political committee, A Safer Jacksonville for All, has raised more than $830,000, according to Florida Politics reporter A.G. Gancarski.

“I am running to be the next Jacksonville Sheriff because I have devoted my professional life to improving this city and serving the people who call it home,” Waters said in a statement last August. “As your next Sheriff, I am committed to service, driven by my diverse experience in the agency and will strive to deliver the excellence in law enforcement that our community deserves. Together, we can continue to make Jacksonville an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”

Lakesha Burton, Democrat

Burton is the first Black woman to run for sheriff in Jacksonville. She retired from JSO this year after 22 years of service and reaching the title of assistant chief.

JSO gave her its Six Pillars of Character Award for her traits of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Burton was the first female executive director of the Police Athletic League of Jacksonville.

Burton holds an MA in criminology from Florida Metropolitan University.

Through her political committee Make Every Voice Count, Burton has raised more money than any other democratic candidate, reporting more than $855,000 on hand.

Ken Jefferson, Democrat

Served 24 years with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, becoming a notable figure as the agency’s public information officer.

Jefferson currently serves on the Providence School, Keiser University, Rhoda L. Martin Cultural Center and Changing Homelessness Boards of Directors, according to his candidate bio.

He holds a master’s degree in Theology and Honorary Doctorate Degrees from St. Thomas Christian University and Jacksonville Theological Seminary.

Wayne Clark, Democrat

Clark began his career with JSO in 1980 as a corrections officer, before becoming a police officer in 1983.

Clark reached the rank of division chief, retiring as the commander of every patrol officer in Patrol Zones Four, Five, and Six.

Wayne went on to serve as a lieutenant, assistant chief, and chief of police at the Duval County School Police Department. He retired last September.

Read more about him here.

Tony Cummings, Democrat

Cummings has worked in law enforcement for 28 years.

In a 2015 televised debate held at Jacksonville University’s Public Policy Institute, Cummings proposed reforming the agency, saying the city was “hemorrhaging” from violent crime. He campaigned again in 2019 to reiterate his message of the need for police reform.

He holds a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University.

Samantha Mathers

Samantha Mathers, Action News Jax

Samantha Mathers is a digital reporter and content creator for Action News Jax.

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