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First Coast

DeSantis taps Undersheriff Pat Ivey as interim Jacksonville sheriff

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Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
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Undersheriff Pat Ivey will take over as interim Jacksonville sheriff until a special election next fall to fill the remaining term of departing Sheriff Mike Williams.

There’s a new acting sheriff in town, and Jacksonville voters will decide later this year who’ll be the next elected one.

In a pair of developments related to Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams’ decision to retire this week, Gov. Ron Desantis appointed Undersheriff Pat Ivey as acting sheriff Monday and the Jacksonville City Council set a special election on Aug. 23 to pick a successor.

Ivey will serve as interim sheriff until a special election in the fall. The election winner will serve the rest of Williams' term, which ends June 30 2023. After that, the winner of the regular 2023 election will begin a new term July 1, according to Duval Elections Supervisor Mike Hogan.

DeSantis tabbed Ivey during an announcement in which he also endorsed Republican candidate T.K. Waters in both the special election and the city’s regular election in March 2023. Waters is among six candidates in the running.

"I think the important thing is just continuity to get us through the end of the year," DeSantis said. "I think Pat is very, very highly regarded, I think he's going to have respect from people from Day 1, and I think he'll be able to continue the work that the department's doing without having major interruptions."

Williams announced his retirement last week after revelations that he had moved out of Duval County while serving as sheriff last year, a violation of the city's charter. A draft legal opinion from the Office of General Counsel would have removed Williams from office June 2, the same day he announced his retirement, but that opinion was never executed following a request from City Council President Sam Newby.

During a City Council meeting to set the special election, the city’s lead attorney, Jason Teal, said his opinion about Williams’ de facto status was based on legal precedent that it would “create chaos to go back in time and try to unwind all of the decisions” of officeholders who are qualified for the position but have no legal right to be in it. Teal said de facto officeholders are eligible for compensation.

But Jacksonville activist Ben Frazier, one of a handful of speakers calling for Williams to be held accountable, told the council not to “get hung up on Latin you can’t spell or pronounce” and instead launch an investigation. “If the sheriff broke the law, there should be consequences just like for the rest of us who break the law,” he said.