Retired deputy running for Jefferson County sheriff

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 4:59 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - In front of family, friends and community members, Pete Barnett announced his candidacy for Jefferson County Sheriff on Friday night.

“I retired in 2013, but always with the reservation that I would some day return, well now is that time,” said Barnett.

The Watertown native retired in 2013 from the Sheriff’s Office where he served for 26 years in various roles.

In recent years, Barnett has worked part time with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

“I feel that with my years of service after 34 years, I’m very comfortable with the movement of the Public Safety Building and very comfortable with county government,” said Barnett.

The position is now up for grabs after current Sheriff Colleen O’Neill announced she would not be seeking re-election.

O’Neill has held the position for 7 years and has been praised for what she has accomplished in her short tenure, being behind some major drug busts, and helping the department through what county leaders say were less than optimum times.

It’s a legacy that Barnett says if elected, he hopes he can live up to.

“Anybody that steps into a former sheriff’s office, they are big shoes to fill because it’s a very big position with much responsibility,” said Barnett.

If elected, Barnett says he is looking to streamline the pistol permit process and wants to have more conversations about what he says is a criminal element the county is facing and find ways to resolve it.

“I will use all of my resources to their fullest extent,” said Barnett.

Barnett says he will be making his rounds around the county over the next year, wanting to hear the ideas and vision of what the taxpayers want the department to look like as he prepares to be on the ballot in 2022.

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