Mixed reaction from Jacksonville residents on Sheriff Williams’ retirement announcement

Jacksonville residents shared their reactions to Sheriff Mike Williams announcing his retirement Thursday morning amid controversy about a recent move from Duval to Nassau County.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many people in Jacksonville are telling News4JAX they feel Mike Williams made the right decision in announcing an early retirement. They said they see his move to Nassau County last year as a stain on Mike Williams’ legacy, that it raises questions about leadership, transparency, and crime.

Nathan Thompson said he voted for Mike Williams. “I thought he was a good sheriff.” But Thompson also said his move out of Jacksonville last year showed a lack of accountability to his constituents. “I think he just wanted to get away from the crime around here and didn’t want to listen to people about the crime.”

“If you’re the coach of a team, you stay with your team, so that’s my feeling on it,” Ronald Lewis said.

READ: Sheriff Williams’ letter announcing retirement

Virgil Stripling weighed in, “You need to live in Jacksonville. You can’t be a part of the community if you’re not a part of the community.”

On Monday, Williams told reporters he saw the city law’s stipulation that the sheriff live in Duval County as being in conflict with state law—he also denied moving out of Jacksonville because it’s not safe.

But today, some Jacksonville residents tell News4JAX Williams’ decision to move suggests otherwise.

“You know how it is here, so why didn’t you do something about it?” Norris Moss said. “If it was unsafe for us, you know was unsafe for your family, why didn’t you do something about it?”

MORE: Jacksonville’s sheriff is stepping down over residency issue. What happens now?

“The transparency was supposed to be there.” Some residents are asking why Williams didn’t tell city leaders about his move out of town. “So which means if the mayor didn’t know, what else went past everybody else?”

When asked on Monday why he didn’t tell anyone about the move, Williams didn’t answer the question— instead citing what he viewed as inconsistency in the law.

News4JAX Insiders also weighed in on this issue Thursday. Gail commented, “Where he lives should not be an issue. He has given everything. He had to do his job and I commend him for that.”

News4JAX Insider Valerie wrote, “He owes the citizens of Jacksonville one year and some months of his salary back. Privileged!” And DontTALKabtDuvalNoNo comment said, “There are some great candidates up for the Sheriff spot. I am confident Jax will see better & safer days ahead!”

We also asked residents whether they think Mike Williams should have to pay back his salary over the past year—they all said no. Just let him retire and let Jacksonville move on.

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I-TEAM and general assignment reporter