Jefferson County sheriff won't seek re-election

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT HADLOCK — Jefferson County Sheriff Tony Hernandez will leave office at the end of his current term without seeking re-election and move to his hometown of Bremerton.

“This was a hard decision,” said Hernandez, 42.

“But after thinking it over, I determined it is the best thing for myself and my family if I step down.”

Hernandez earns $85,015 per year and supervises a 55-member department that includes 20 patrol deputies.

In January 2013, Hernandez was an unsuccessful finalist for Bremerton's police chief position.

A 1990 graduate of Bremerton High School, he told the Kitsap Sun that he “would love a chance to return to Bremerton, return home.”

After he was not selected for the job, he said he intended to spend the rest of his career as Jefferson County sheriff and hoped to retire in the county.

“Bremerton is in my rearview mirror right now,” Hernandez said then.

Family matters have greatly influenced his decision, he said.

During his tenure in Jefferson County, his wife and children have commuted to Kitsap County from their Port Ludlow home for work and school.

Another factor is the relocation of his 75-year-old father to an Olympia facility and the need to become more involved in his care.

“It has become really stressful and difficult,” Hernandez said.

“After weighing all the options, I decided this was the best choice, although I will miss everyone up here. They have become my family.”

Hernandez joined the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in 2001 and was promoted to undersheriff by Sheriff Mike Brasfield in 2007.

In 2009, Brasfield retired, and the Jefferson County commissioners appointed Hernandez, the Jefferson County Democratic Central Committee's top choice, to the post.

They chose him over retired California police officer David Stanko and Jefferson County sheriff's detective Joe Nole, who is now chief criminal deputy.

Both Stanko and Nole said they would not run against Hernandez.

Hernandez was elected to a four-year term that November. His term expires Dec. 31.

Candidate filing week is May 12-16.

All declared candidates will compete in the Aug. 5 primary, with the top two vote-getters running in the Nov. 4 general election.

Hernandez said he had talked to a retired law enforcement officer, whom he did not identify, about running for the position.

He said he will not endorse a successor and didn't think any of his deputies were interested in the top position.

“During the next seven months, I intend to prepare the department for my exit and help them prepare for my successor,” he said.

“I hope the department will continue its tradition of public service and keep in mind that everything it does is to support the quality of life in the county.”

Hernandez said he will begin looking for a job but doesn't expect to work for the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office.

“I will consider a job in a command center and will look for something as a police chief,” he said.

“I would also consider something in private industry.”

Hernandez served as chief criminal deputy in 2006 and as director of community policing and code enforcement coordinator in 2005 and 2006.

He served as a county deputy from 2001 to 2005.

Before coming to Jefferson County, he served during 2000 and 2001 as a secure crisis residential counselor and detention officer for runaway youths in Kitsap County.

He was a police officer for the Department of Defense in 1999 and 2000 and a Bremerton reserve police officer from 1997 to 1999.

He was a data analyst for the U.S. Marshals Service from 1996 to 1999.

He has attended the FBI National Academy and the state Criminal Justice Academy.

________

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 03. 2014 6:22PM
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