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Mike Williams wins big in close race for sheriff

Mike Williams: 'Thank you to every person that voted '

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The race for Jacksonville's next sheriff started off neck and neck in Tuesday's general election, but the night ended with Mike Williams prevailing over Ken Jefferson.

The two men who survived a seven-candidate primary for sheriff of Jacksonville in March, Jefferson, a Democrat, and Williams, a Republican, both former officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, faced off one last time.

As election night progressed Williams built a slight lead that Jefferson was never able to overcome.

"Thank you to every person that voted regardless of what you put on your ballot," Williams said. 

At the end of the night it was clear that Jefferson was unhappy with losing to Williams after what Jefferson said was nasty campaign.   

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"I have no regrets whatsoever, we ran a good, clean campaign. When a person has to resort to nasty ugly rhetoric to get in office, the people get what they get," Jefferson said. "I'm proud to have had a marvelous career with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.  A decorated career with the Jacksonville's sheriff's office.  I will not play in the mud. The office is too sacred to bow down. We did it the right way." 

Jefferson's held steady at 48 percent of the vote for most of the night, when all the votes were counted, Williams still had 51.5 percent of the vote with 201,303 votes.

In his acceptance speech Williams thanked the supporters that put him over the top and even the voters who didn't along with his opponent. 

"To my opponent Ken Jefferson, I want to tell you there is room for all views and ideas as we tackle some very big challenges about the safety in Jacksonville. Thank you for all you do for Jacksonville," Williams said. 

Williams also made it a point to thank the man who was one of his greatest supporters and the man who some said help propel him to victory, outgoing sheriff John Rutherford.

"To Sheriff John Rutherford, I want to tell you you've been a great friend and a teacher. And as you hand off the baton you have my promise that our great agency will continue in its commitment to ethics and integrity under my leadership."

UNCUT: Jefferson concedes to "dirty win" Mike Williams talks to supporters 

Rutherford also spoke out about Williams' win tonight.

"I'm very happy for Mike, for the city of Jacksonville. I think the citizens will be in good hands from a public safety standpoint. I'm really encouraged. I think the new mayor and new sheriff are going to be a great team together. I think public safety will be in very good hands with the both of them," Rutherford said. 

Both candidates said that whoever prevails, they would work together to make this a safer community.

"I think you'll see people come together again, beginning tonight," Williams said. "We all know we have a job to do for this community, and the men and women of the JSO will step up and get it done."

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