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Candidates for Jacksonville Sheriff Face Off In Debate


All the candidates for Jacksonville Sheriff met last night in a debate at Jacksonville University. The seven men vying for the office of Duval County’s top cop answered questions about violent crime, race relations, financial management, juvenile justice and gangs.

The candidates are Tony Cummings, Jay Farhat, Jimmy Holderfield, Ken Jefferson, Lonnie McDonald, Rob Schoonover and Mike Williams. Each explained how he would combat gangs in the city.

Holderfield stressed early intervention through arrests:

If they stole a piece of bubble gum, go ahead and pick them up at that particular point so that they don’t commit rapes and murders and other issues.

Cummings would recruit ex gang members to speak to young people about the dangers of violence:

We call them O.G.’s. Nonetheless, they have a lot of knowledge and a lot of wisdom about street activity that some of our officers don’t have.

Jefferson proposed establishing a pro-active street crimes unit and sitting down with gang leaders in the city:

To have a discussion about the ways they disrupt the city with crime. It’s been done all over the country.

Farhat stressed a comprehensive approach:

We have kids being raised by kids, particularly in some of these low income neighborhoods. We’ve got to bring back a variety of different resources across the board.

Early voting ends this Sunday. Election Day is Tuesday, March 24.

Watch the entire debate from our news partner News4Jax.

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Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.