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JU plans televised debate in Jacksonville sheriff's race

The Jacksonville sheriff's candidates will debate Aug. 10 at Jacksonville University.
The Jacksonville sheriff's candidates will debate Aug. 10 at Jacksonville University.

Jacksonville University is planning a televised debate between the candidates for Jacksonville sheriff.

The debate Aug. 10 is a joint program of the JU Public Policy Institute and WJXT-Ch. 4. It will take place from 8 to 9 p.m. in the university's Terry Concert Hall, 2800 University Blvd. N.

News4Jax anchor and political journalist Kent Justice will moderate the debate between candidates Lakesha Burton, Wayne Clark, Tony Cummings, Ken Jefferson and T.K. Waters.

“This is one of the most important sheriff’s races in years, and the winner may have the opportunity to lead and shape the future of law enforcement in Duval County for years to come,” Rick Mullaney, executive director of the Public Policy Institute, said in a news release.

Former Sheriff Mike Williams retired in June after revelations that he had moved out of the city and was no longer eligible to hold the office. The City Council scheduled a special election for Aug. 23. If none of the candidates reach more than 50% of the vote in that special election, the city will hold a run-off election Nov. 8 for the top two candidates.

”While there is a spring 2023 sheriff’s race as part of the city’s local elections, the winner of this special election will not only serve the unexpired term of former Sheriff Mike Williams, but will be well-positioned to serve two more four-year terms,” Mullaney said.

Since 2015, the Public Policy Institute and News4Jax have co-hosted 10 televised debates on JU’s campus in local, state and federal elections, in addition to a congressional debate in Channel 4’s broadcast studio.

The institute and News4Jax also hosted a televised town hall on gun violence and a televised mayoral forum commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jacksonville’s consolidation. Kent Justice served as moderator for those events, as well.