Vote Pete Williams For State Attorney!
Say No To Willie “Slick” Meggs!
Update: Former statewide prosecutor Williams challenging State Attorney Meggs
4:54 PM, Apr. 20, 2012 | By Jeff Burlew Senior Government Editor
4:55 p.m. update
Longtime State Attorney Willie Meggs will have competition in the fall election after all.
Pete Williams, a former statewide prosecutor and inspector general for several Florida agencies, filed Friday to run against Meggs, who’s seeking an eighth term as prosecutor for the 2nd Judicial District comprising Leon and five surrounding counties.
Williams filed on the last day of qualifying for candidates running for state attorney, public defender and circuit-judge. Meggs filed for re-election last year.
Public Defender Nancy Daniels, elected the state’s first female public defender in 1990, qualified without opposition along with Judges Terry Lewis, George Reynolds and James Shelfer. All four were essentially re-elected, though results won’t become official until after the Nov. 6 election.
Two candidates, Kris Dunn and Barbara Hobbs, qualified to run against Circuit Judge Josefina Tamayo, who was appointed to the seat in 2010 by Gov. Charlie Crist.
Williams, 59, worked a decade as an assistant state attorney in the 1st Judicial District covering the western Panhandle before becoming an assistant attorney general focusing on economic crime under Attorney General Bob Butterworth. He served as director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and inspector general for three state agencies, including the Department of Education, a post he resigned from Thursday.
Williams said it’s time for change in the State Attorney’s Office.
“I think we should thank Willie Meggs for his 28 years of service,” Williams said. “But the voters really need to think about whether he should have another term. Generally, I think most people would say 28 years is a pretty good career. It’s always good to get new and fresh energy in such an important office.”
Meggs, 68, said he believes he’s doing a good job and his office is “making a difference in the community.” He added that “change for the sake of change is kind of foolish.”
“I hope that I have the confidence of the folks that live here, that they will see that we’ve done a good job prosecuting cases and that they’ll return myself and the good folks that work here in the office back for another four years,” Meggs said.
Williams’ candidacy took some political observers and Meggs himself by surprise. Williams qualified by paying a $9,004 fee. Meggs, who was elected in 2008 without opposition, qualified by turning in 2,419 voter petitions, above the required number of 2,373. Meggs, a Democrat, has raised only about $800 so far, according to campaign-finance records. Williams, a Republican, hasn’t begun fundraising.
In 2002, Williams was appointed to a four-year term as statewide prosecutor by then-Attorney General Charlie Crist, overseeing 42 prosecutors in eight offices around the state and handling cases from organized crime to fraud.
Meggs, who oversees 45 prosecutors, conducted 219 felony jury trials in 2011. His conviction rate was 86 percent in Franklin County, 50 percent in Gadsden County, 100 percent in Jefferson County, 65 percent in Leon County, 58 percent in Liberty County and 64 percent in Wakulla. He oversees 45 prosecutors.
Meggs served as a Tallahassee Police Department patrolman and investigator and a Leon County Sheriff’s Office deputy sergeant before becoming assistant state attorney in 1976 and winning election as state attorney in 1985.
His recent successes include the prosecution last year of Gary Michael Hilton, convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in the killing of Cheryl Dunlap. In a controversial case last year, he brought but later dropped charges against former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom.
12:15 p.m. update
Former statewide prosecutor Pete Williams has filed to run against State Attorney Willie Meggs in the upcoming election.
Meggs, first elected state attorney in 1985, is in his seventh term. Before becoming assistant state attorney in 1976, Meggs served as a patrolman and investigator for the Tallahassee Police Department and a deputy sergeant with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.
Williams is a former inspector general for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and served as statewide prosecutor from 2002 to 2006. He was appointed by then Attorney General Charlie Crist.
Williams is a Republican; Meggs is a Democrat.
The qualifying period for candidates running for state attorney, public defender and three circuit-judge seats ended at noon today. The Florida Division of Elections is expected to confirm which candidates qualified by paying a fee or handing in voter signatures later this afternoon.
Check back with Tallahassee.com for more on this story.
The qualifying period for candidates running for state attorney, public defender and circuit judge ends at noon today — and several local officials could be automatically re-elected if no one files to run against them.
Judicial candidates who have already qualified by paying a fee or submitting signed petitions are State Attorney Willie Meggs, Public Defender Nancy Daniels, Circuit Judge George Reynolds, Circuit Judge Josefina Tamayo, Circuit Judge James Shelfer, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis and Kris Dunn and Barbara Hobbs, both of whom are challenging Tamayo.
The only contested race as of Thursday afternoon was for Tamayo’s seat.
Candidates who qualify without competition won’t officially be re-elected until local canvassing boards certify general-election results in November, according to officials with the Florida Division of Elections.
Check back with Tallahassee.com for more on this story.