ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – St. Augustine Beach Chief of Police Rob Hardwick sailed to a decisive victory in the Republican primary Tuesday for sheriff of St. Johns County.
Sheriff David Shoar is retiring after five terms and the county will see its first new sheriff in 16 years.
Republican voters selected Hardwick by a 69%-30% margin over former St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Director Chris Strickland in Florida Primary voting.
“Overwhelmed, humbled ... looking forward to being the sheriff of St. Johns County,” Hardwick said.
Hardwick joined The Morning Show on Wednesday to discuss his victory (press play below to watch):
Shoar and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford came on stage at Harkwick’s victory party to congratulate him.
“I’ve been truly blessed that (David Shoar) has been supporting us and endorsing us, but I’m my own leader with my own leadership traits and I’m looking forward to leading from top, the front, by example,” Hardwick said. “A lot of good things coming to SJCSO as we deal with growth.”
Strickland acknowledged his campaign never caught fire with the voters.
“I think we ran a professional and clean campaign. We were dignified in our response to some of the things that went on and I’m proud of our staff and the campaign we ran,” Strickland said.
Because there is a qualified write-in the race -- Scott C. Boutwell, also a registered Republican -- the primary was closed to only Republicans. Hardwick’s name will be the only one on the general election ballot, but we can’t officially call him the next sheriff until Nov. 4.
Hardwick will continue to run the St. Augustine Beach Police Department until November and will work on a transition plan to leave it in good hands.
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St. Johns County Republicans also elected Christian Whitehurst as County Commission District 1 over incumbent Jimmy Johns. He will face Democrat Joe McAnarney in November.
Anthony Coleman defeated Nick Graham in the nonpartisan race for School Board District 2.
Nearly 30% of registered voters in St. Johns County cast ballots in the primary -- 43% by mail, 30% on election day and 26% during early voting.
The Supervisor of Election Vicky Oakes said their priority was keeping our staff, poll workers and voters safe during the voting process, adopting Voter Election Protection Standards for voting during COVID-19. Poll workers were provided face shields, masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes at all voting locations. All precincts were set up to allow for social distancing and had masks available for voters.