An Interview with New, Kitsap-Rooted, Jefferson County Sheriff

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New Jefferson County Sheriff Anthony “Tony” Hernandez has law enforcement experience at both the federal and local level. Soon, he’ll get his taste in law enforcement of the political kind.

The Bremerton High School ’90 graduate will take over for Sheriff Mike Brasfield next week as the Jefferson County Commissioners’ handpicked successor. “It feels great,” he told me Tuesday.

But it won’t be long before Hernandez — who has been with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office almost eight years and has interned with both the federal ATF and U.S. Marshal’s Service — must get out and gladhand.

He must run campaigns for sheriff in June 2009 in order to run the 47-deputy, $2.4 million office for the duration of Brasfield’s current term. And then, he must run again, in June 2010, to secure his own.

Hernandez, 39, said he’s felt honored to work with 41-year law enforcement veteran Mike Brasfield, whom he called his “mentor.” But Hernandez himself has had quite a career thus far.

Hernandez was a police officer for the Department of Defense (at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard) in 1999 and 2000 and worked as a Bremerton Police reserve officers from 1997 to 1999. He also worked as a data analyst for the U.S. Marshal’s Service from 1996 to 1999, and also interned for ATF while in college.

When he came to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in 2001, he was working at Kitsap’s Crisis Secure Residential Center, a runaway youth shelter that recently closed due to budget cuts.

He worked as a sheriff’s deputy in Jefferson from 2001 to 2005 before becoming the chief criminal deputy in 2006 and then the undersheriff in 2007.

He lives in Port Ludlow with his wife and two young daughters.

He graduated from Olympic College and got his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington.

For all the politicking he’ll soon have to do, he’s got one ace up his sleeve: His degree from UW? Political science.

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