Officials reflect on their careers during swearing-in ceremony

St. Lawrence County swearing in

CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - This isn't where newly sworn-in St. Lawrence County Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe expected to be when he started at the department.

He was one of four St. Lawrence County officials who took their oaths of office Thursday evening.

"When I first started as a deputy 33 years ago," he said, "I had no aspirations to be sheriff."

But that all changed with the help of a role model.

"Years ago, when Sheriff Keith Knowlton retired, I had aspirations to follow in his footsteps," Bigwarfe said. "He was kind of my mentor, someone I looked up to."

It was a similar situation for newly minted County Clerk Sandra Santamoor, who served as deputy clerk for nearly a decade.

"Unfortunately our last county clerk passed away in May and convinced me to run," she said.

Bigwarfe and Santamoor were celebrated by friends and family in a swearing-in ceremony in Canton.

They officially take office on January 1.

New Deputy County Clerk Melisa Friedel and new Undersheriff Sean O'Brien also took the oath of office.

Santamoor and Bigwarfe spent the year campaigning to win their spots and both say the ceremony feels like the payoff for their efforts.

"It was a culmination of a year-long campaigning," Bigwarfe said.

"Brooks and I have been busy all summer," Santamoor said, "so this is kind of like the finale to running all summer."

While the swearing-in ceremony was a cause for celebration, the new officials know they have challenges coming their way.

"There's a lot of reform coming in law enforcement," Bigwarfe said, "discovery, bail reforms, some other things that are coming down in 2020.

Reforms that O'Brien doesn't take lightly.

"Every night when I go to bed, I think about criminal justice reform," he said.

Santamoor will be tasked with enforcing the Green Light Law, which allows illegal immigrants to get a state driver's license.

"I'm not a fan of it, I think I've made that pretty clear, but it is the law," she said. "I don't think anybody wants a county clerk that's going to say they're going to break the law, so I will follow it."

Thursday's ceremony was about welcoming the new officials to the next steps in their careers.

Even if it wasn’t where they thought they’d be years ago.

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