JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lakesha Burton, the former assistant chief for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office who previously ran for sheriff in 2022, said she won’t be running again in 2023.
During a news conference Wednesday morning, Burton said not running was a difficult decision but ultimately she thought of the impact the campaign would have on her family.
“After much thought and prayer, I believe that it would be a disservice to our city and the men and women of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office,” she said. “After everything that we have gone through over the last year — Mike Williams’s retirement, the interim Sheriff, the special election — the sheriff’s office needs stability, and not to mention the senseless violence that continues to claim so many lives just two days ago across the street. I think that we all can agree that the single most important thing right now is for our sheriff to be focused on keeping and making our city safer and not focused on a campaign, a campaign that quite frankly, I cannot win.”
Burton, a Democrat, lost the special election last November to Republican T.K. Waters, who is currently serving as Jacksonville sheriff. Waters received 55% of the vote, while Burton collected 45%.
Waters had already announced he’s running for re-election. Before he was elected, he too worked at JSO, serving as chief of investigations. He issued a statement to News4JAX after Burton filed her paperwork last week that reads: “I am focused on my job as sheriff and keeping the people of Jacksonville safe. The residents have already let their voices be heard. Twice. Resoundingly. We will let the people voice their opinion a third time.”
The election in November came after Burton and Waters won the most votes in last August’s five-way election to elect a replacement for former Sheriff Williams. Since neither candidate earned more than 50% of the vote, they advanced to the November ballot.
Williams resigned in June amid controversy over a move from Duval to Nassau County.
Notably, the candidate qualifying for the March election started this week, and a candidate must pay the qualifying fee, or have submitted petitions to actually be in the election. The winner of the election in the spring will serve a full, four-year term.
Burton said whoever is elected must try to pull the city together.
She added that it’s not clear what’s next for her but said that she is open to meeting with Waters to share her ideas.
“I’m very pleased to see some of the things that [Waters] has done. But again, I think that we all should be demanding that Sheriff Waters present a comprehensive, detailed plan about how he’s going to address the violent crime in our city. And it can’t be the same way that we’ve been addressing the crimes. We have to address it more in a comprehensive approach. Other than that, it’s only been 57 days, so let’s give him time, and I think is important for the community to give him an opportunity” Burton said.
A spokesperson for Waters’ campaign declined to comment.