Your Voice Matters: Local ministers say enough with the attacks in the sheriff’s race, focus on fighting crime

There’s a plea from ministers around Jacksonville for the sheriff’s candidates to end the negative campaign ads and focus on the issues.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There’s a plea from ministers around Jacksonville for the sheriff’s candidates to end the negative campaign ads and focus on the issues. Democrat Lakesha Burton and Republican T.K. Waters are running for Jacksonville Sheriff. Monday, church leaders said on the courthouse steps that the issues of crime and community involvement are being ignored and Jacksonville is losing out.

As part of our commitment to making sure Your Voice Matters in our election coverage, News4JAX is more focused than ever on what issues are important to you and how the candidates plan to address them -- not on the candidate ‘back and forth’ and political theater.

In Arlington, News4JAX reporter Jim Piggott sat with Lewis Powell as he waited for the bus. He is new to the area and Jim asked him about the issues he and others in his neighborhood want addressed. Crime is his number one.

News4JAX reporter Jim Piggott talks to Arlington resident (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

“I think crime around here is terrible,” Powell said. “But if you want to say what it looks like across the bridge then it’s much more terrible there.”

While that is something the two candidates for sheriff do talk about, many times the attention is on the candidates themselves and not on what they will actually do. That is something a group of ministers and others said they’re not happy about.

“We denounce to the strongest terms and negative flyers commercials and other forms of campaigning,” Senior Pastor at Hopewell Church, Gary Williams said. “We encourage every candidate to run on the record and if elected what will you do to make positive change how are you reduce crime and violence in our municipality. How are you bringing all members of law enforcement in the community together?”

VOTERS GUIDE: Jacksonville Sheriff’s race

News4JAX talked to each campaign. We didn’t ask them to talk about each other’s approach but about their own ideas to curb crime.

Democrat Lakesha Burton talked to us in person.

Jim Piggott asked her if there’s anything she can really do.

“Absolutely. Again, I think that we have to stop being reactive, we have to look at how we address our violent crime from a more comprehensive approach,” Burton said. “And what I was able to do with my team last year, we had a 16% reduction in crime here in Arlington beaches area. That’s because we had we took a different approach to that.”

Jim replied, “But, now, we’re watching crime even in this area rise.”

Burton said, ”Yeah, it’s something that you have to deal with constantly every day. But we have to build relationships with our community, because JSO alone can’t do it.”

We asked T.K. Waters to talk with us on camera – instead, his campaign issued this statement:

T.K. wants to lead JSO in a new direction as it relates to community engagement, transparency and communication. He wants to return JSO to more of a service mentality as it interacts with the community. He will advocate for more officers, compress patrol zones so officers cover a smaller area and can be more responsive. T.K. believes that JSO does a lot of things well but can do a lot more for the community.

After next month’s election – it won’t be long before you hear about plans for JSO again. This is only a special election – to finish the term of former sheriff Mike Williams, which runs through the end of June.

Next spring – we will have another election, to choose a sheriff for a full four-year term.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.