Sheriff announces plans to retire in March

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Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Sheriff Jim Sabin (center) announced he will retire on March 15. He recommended to the county commissioners and Republican Central Committee that Lt. John Swaney (right) take his place with Lt. Eric Semler (left) serving as second in command.

(Posted Feb. 18, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

After more than 14 years as sheriff and a total of 37 years with the Sheriff’s Office, Madison County Sheriff Jim Sabin is retiring.

Sabin made the official announcement at the county commissioners’ office on Feb. 12. His last day on the job is March 15.

“It’s been a blast. It’s been fun,” Sabin said with tears in his eyes. “This county has been so good to me.”

A little less than two years remain on Sabin’s current term as sheriff. Sabin recommended that the commissioners appoint Lt. John Swaney as acting sheriff effective March 15. After that, it will be up to the Madison County Republican Central Committee to select the person who will complete the term. Sabin said he is recommending that the committee choose Swaney.

“A major consideration in my retirement was to ensure my successor would maintain the high standards and dedication due to the citizens of Madison County,” Sabin said. “Over a year ago, I made it known that I would be retiring at some time in the future. Lt. John Swaney and Lt. Eric Semler have responded, determining among themselves, if given the opportunity, John could confidently serve as sheriff while Eric would be his second in command.”

Combined, Swaney and Semler have more than 40 years of service to the Sheriff’s Office.

Over the past year, Swaney has worked with Sabin to realign the office for the future transition. He has worked on budget, personnel and operations tasks. Sabin has introduced him to duties and obligations that are the sole responsibility of the sheriff.

“(Swaney) knows the county. He knows the people of the county. He knows what they expect. I am confident he will serve in a professional and dedicated manner,” Sabin said.

“I am very blessed to have got to work under Sheriff Sabin,” Swaney said. “His shoes are impossible to fill.”

Commissioner Dr. Tony Xenikis said Swaney was sure to make Sabin proud. Commissioner Mark Forrest said the same.

“I know you see it as big shoes to fill but we know you can make you’re on big shoes to fill,” Forrest said.

Commissioner David Hunter asked Semler what he thought of the coming change.

Semler said that he and Swaney working together will make the task of following in Sabin’s footsteps easier.

“It will take two of us,” Semler said.

Hunter thanked Sabin for his service, saying, “We sure do appreciate everything you’ve done for this county.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to appoint Swaney as acting sheriff effective March 15.

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