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Jacksonville City Council president says decision on sheriff will now come Thursday, could be special election

The "absolute deadline" on an opinion from the city attorney is Thursday at 2 p.m., he said.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — A decision on the legality of Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams moving out of Duval County will come by Thursday at 2 p.m. instead of Wednesday, City Council President Sam Newby said.

A "legal binding opinion" will be released by Jacksonville General Council Jason Teal. 

"That's the absolute deadline," Newby said. "I would rather get it right." 

Friday, Williams told First Coast News he moved to Nassau County a year ago. The move could be a violation of the city's charter, which says if the sheriff should "remove his residence from Duval County during his term of office … the office of sheriff shall become vacant." 

This means Williams, pending a legal decision from the city, could be unseated from his position.

While state law does not require a sheriff to live within his jurisdiction, it does allow individual counties, and cities, to make their own laws. 

Newby said that should the Jacksonville Office of General Council decide that Williams vacated his position by moving to Nassau County, he will call for a special city council meeting to vote on whether to hold a special election to choose a new sheriff.

Williams said he would consider moving back to Jacksonville. 

A legal expert says that the city charter overrules state law and does not allow for the sheriff to simply move back and reassume office.

"I don't think you could simply just change your mind, move back into the county and say, 'well, the past year didn't matter' because the city charter is very clear about the vacancy having occurred when he removed his residency from the city of Jacksonville," Attorney Neil Henderson said.

Public officials continue to weigh in on Williams' revelation that he does not live in Duval County. The latest is Jacksonville City Council Member LeAnna Cumber, who made a statement Tuesday.  

"I fully support our law enforcement officers and respect Sheriff Williams’ service. I look forward to hearing more from the Sheriff about the residency issue and closely reviewing the General Counsel’s analysis," she said. "I took an oath to uphold the law and I strongly support the charter’s requirement that Jacksonville’s sheriff live in Duval County. We have many ongoing public safety issues here that demand immediate and uninterrupted attention.”

Governor Ron DeSantis's office told First Coast News that he does not have anything to say on the issue. "This matter is being handled locally by county and city authorities," Deputy Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry voiced his support for Williams Monday in a tweet, where he wrote: "I have worked with and served with Sheriff Williams for almost 7 years. He is always engaged, present and cares deeply about his community." 

Curry said he found out that Williams had moved through news reports. Several city council members say the same. 

Councilman Matt Carlucci said Monday he understands how people may feel misled by the sheriff. He said it's "not good optics" for him to live outside of Jacksonville.

"I really respect him and I love him for what he does for our city," Carlucci said. Carlucci said he told Williams that he should consider moving back to Duval County until the end of his term.

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