‘I’m not controlled by a party’: T.K. Waters says he’ll be transparent if elected Jacksonville sheriff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The lone Republican candidate in the race for Jacksonville sheriff, T.K. Waters, says he’s not trying to hide his beliefs from the public, noting that he just retired from the Sheriff’s Office six days ago — and he said he’ll be transparent if elected to the position.

Waters sat down with News4JAX on Thursday, a day after an interview following an event with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, where he told a News4JAX reporter that he’d only answer one question.

“Let me clarify,” he said. “I was there about 20 minutes standing very close to the media. No one said anything to me. Walked up to the pier. Ran up behind me and said, ‘Can I ask you one question?’ I said one question because I was on my way to meet another group and trying to be on time.”

RELATED: Sheriff candidate T.K. Waters makes rare public appearance, answers single question | ‘We have to get back to serving the people’: Lakesha Burton says changes needed in Jacksonville policing | Candidate Ken Jefferson: ‘I intend to be a totally, unequivocally, 100% transparent sheriff’ | ‘We owe it to the public to be transparent’: Sheriff candidate Wayne Clark promises to release body camera footage | ‘The city deserves better’: Tony Cummings plans public accountability office if he’s elected Jacksonville sheriff

Waters said he will be transparent as sheriff and was constrained by being the only candidate still employed by JSO. That changed Friday when Waters officially retired after 31 years with the agency.

“What was most important for me was to finish up my time with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office,” Waters said. “I take my job very seriously. If I’m on the clock if and if someone called me about the campaign, I wouldn’t answer. I felt I owed the people of Jacksonville the dedication and straightforward purpose of doing my job.”

Waters retired with his last position at JSO being chief of investigations and homeland security. That meant he oversaw all the police-involved shooting investigations at JSO.

Waters said transparency was critical to him as he met with multiple families of people shot by police.

RELATED: ‘We have to get back to serving the people’: Lakesha Burton says changes needed in Jacksonville policing

News4JAX also asked Waters about political influence on his campaign. Waters, the only Republican in the field, has received endorsements from most of the Republican establishment, including Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Waters said the party will not control him if he’s elected.

“I am 100-percent my own man,” Waters said. “I’m the son of a longtime military man, so I get my values and those things. I’m not controlled by a party. I’m controlled by my desires, my beliefs, what I think are the right things to do.”

We also asked Waters about his residency. There’s been recent controversy over a move by former Sheriff Mike Williams, and after it became public knowledge that he had a new address in Nassau County, he announced his retirement.

RELATED: Sheriff Mike Williams’ 31 years with JSO ends Friday with retirement amid controversy

Waters told News4JAX that he has lived in Duval County steadily since for about eight years, when he sold a property in Clay County. He said his time in Clay was brief and he lived in Jacksonville before that. Waters said he currently lives in a home on the Northside of Jacksonville and is waiting on construction of a primary residence to be completed in the city.

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.