Jefferson County sheriff resigns for Milton police chief post; last day set for Aug. 29

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Sheriff Tony Hernandez is resigning effective noon Aug. 29 to take the Milton police chief position.

“Tony will be missed and will be hard to replace,” Commissioner John Austin said after Hernandez announced his resignation to the county commissioners Monday.

“He’s been a terrific team player who has really stepped up and has been willing to extend himself to do extra work.”

The appointment of an interim sheriff is on the Jefferson County commissioners’ Monday agenda.

County staff members have recommended Chief Criminal Deputy Joe Nole to serve the remainder of Hernandez’s term.

Hernandez, 42, was introduced to the public as the new police chief Saturday during Milton Days, an annual community celebration of the town of 7,000 residents about 8 miles northeast of Tacoma, according to Mark Langford, Milton’s interim city manager.

As Milton’s police chief, he will earn $95,000 a year and supervise 14 people, all commissioned except for one administrative assistant.

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

Until his resignation comes into effect, Hernandez will divide his time between Milton, which straddles the King and Pierce counties line, and Jefferson County, said County Administrator Philip Morley.

Morley added that Hernandez will not draw a salary in Jefferson County during that time.

Hernandez did not respond to requests for comment.

Nole, 58, joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1993.

Since that time, Nole has participated in county budget, labor relations and emergency management meetings, according to Morley.

Since Hernandez ran as a Democrat, the county party is charged with naming three possible candidates to serve out Hernandez’s term, with the commissioners selecting one of those names.

Due to the timing, the Jefferson County Democratic Party may choose not to submit any names and allow the interim sheriff to fill the unexpired term.

The winner of the Nov. 4 election would be sworn in Nov. 25 when that election is certified.

Wendy Davis and David Stanko, both Democrats, are running for the office, but neither would be considered as candidates for the interim position, said party Chairman George Yount.

The matter could be discussed at a Sept. 8 meeting of Democratic precinct committee officers, Yount said.

He will recommend that the party submit no names for the vacancy and allow the commissioners’ interim appointee to serve the entire term “but the party doesn’t always follow my recommendations,” he said.

Hernandez has worked for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office since 2001. Sheriff Mike Brasfield promoted him to undersheriff in 2007.

Brasfield resigned in 2009, two years into his second term, and Hernandez was appointed in 2009 to fill the unexpired term.

At that time, the Democratic Party offered three names: Hernandez, Stanko and Nole.

Hernandez was selected by the commissioners and was elected in a special election in 2009 and again to a full four-year term in 2010.

He declined to run for re-election this year.

For the Milton job, Hernandez was one of three finalists on a list that also included Scott Eastman, a sergeant in the Lacey Police Department, and Kevin Rice, an employee of the U.S. Forest Service now headquartered in Utah, Langford said.

Hernandez was chosen because of his background and qualifications and his community-oriented philosophy, Langford added.

Hernandez was also a finalist for the police chief position in Shelton.

In January 2013, he unsuccessfully sought the police chief position in Bremerton, his hometown.

Since announcing he was not running for another term, Hernandez has been open about his job search for a police chief position closer to Bremerton.

As Jefferson County sheriff, he is required to reside in the county and was living in Port Ludlow with his family.

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

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 19. 2014 6:57PM
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