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Sheriff Michelle Cook, Commissioner Kristen Burke file for re-election

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 5/4/23

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – With the stroke of a pen, Sheriff Michelle Cook added the role of a candidate to her duties Monday at the Supervisor of Elections Office.

She became the seventh candidate to …

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Sheriff Michelle Cook, Commissioner Kristen Burke file for re-election


Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – With the stroke of a pen, Sheriff Michelle Cook added the role of a candidate to her duties Monday at the Supervisor of Elections Office.

She became the seventh candidate to file ahead of the Aug. 20, 2024, primary. The others, including Dr. Kristen Burke, who also filed Monday to retain her District 5 seat on the Board of County Commission, also are incumbents.

Cook won the post in 2020 against five other candidates. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed her to replace Sheriff Darryl Daniels four months early after Daniels was accused of lying to investigators about an affair with a former employee when he worked at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Daniels was acquitted by a jury of all charges by a Clay County jury last September.

“You know, things are going well, and it felt right,” Cook said. “There’s been lots of interest from the business community and the citizens. I was getting phone calls about when I was going to file. You know what, why not? I am committed to continuing to serve, so we’ll go ahead and get this ball rolling and look forward to four more years.”

Burke said she wants to continue her work on protecting the residents in the Lake Asbury and Green Cove Springs area from overdevelopment and environmental risks.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a Clay County commissioner,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been able to accomplish a lot fighting for the people, fighting against the development of Solite until we find out what kind of contamination is actually there before and more people get sick. I will definitely will continue to fight for the environment.”

She proposed a moratorium in 2021 to block any developer from increasing residential densities. The BCC voted last February to extend the moratorium for another year.

“We need infrastructure to catch up because we’re having such tremendous growth,” Burke said. “Public safety is a really big deal with me, trying to get a fire station out there in our district.”

Cook has been in law enforcement for 31 years, starting as a patrol officer and working to become third in line at JSO. She was the Atlantic Beach Police Department Chief before returning to Clay County.

According to her campaign, “Serving as Sheriff of our great community is the honor of my life. By working together, we’ve kept our neighborhoods safe by adding uniformed deputies to the streets, given our officers and staff a well-deserved pay increase, and rebuilt our community’s trust and faith in the Sheriff’s Office,” she said. “As Sheriff, I have fought every day to build an agency that our county can be proud of – but the work isn’t done yet.”

Cook moved to Clay County in the early 1980s after her father was stationed at NAS Cecil Field. She attended Orange Park Middle School and graduated from Clay High. Cook got a budget increase from the BCC, and she’s been able to add more deputies. She also helped create a comprehensive active shooter response plan for area schools and churches and created several community programs to help root out the fundamental causes of violent crime, including the Hammer and Hope Initiative and the Faith Leaders Partnership.

During her watch, CCSO She and her team also led the largest drug bust in the county’s history in 2022, stopping a massive fentanyl trafficking ring with connections to a Mexican cartel and a defendant arrested in California.

Other candidates who’ve filed for re-election include Tara Green (Clerk of County Court and Comptroller), Tracy Scott Drake (Property Appraiser), David Broskie (Superintendent of Schools), Chris Chambless (Supervisor of Elections) and Beth Clark (School Board, District 3).