Hamilton County will have a new sheriff in town after elections - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Hamilton County will have a new sheriff in town


With the obvious focus on the presidential race this year, voters are reminded to look over the entire ticket and vote on many important local races.

For example, for the first time in 25 years, there will be a new sheriff in town in Hamilton County. Sheriff Simon Leis has been re-elected in the last six elections, but will retire after this term.

Running on the Republican side, Chief Deputy Sean Donovan is looking to replace Leis. Jim Neil will run on the Democrat ticket. Regardless of who wins in Tuesday's election, the changing of the guard after 25 years will result in some changes to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

On the agenda for both candidates is a look at the shrinking budget and how the money can be used most effectively.

"The county is under severe budget constraints," explained Chief Deputy Donovan. "We have a $54 million budget. But the basic police service, the basic public service, that's what we're here to do. As a service agency, I want to provide that service to the best."

"I'm looking to do an independent fiscal and operational audit of the sheriff's office budget," said Neil.

Both candidates have been with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office for more than 30 years. For the last 15 years, Chief Deputy Donovan has served as Sheriff Leis' right-hand man. But Donovan says he wants to implement his own ideas if elected.

"Do I have plans to maybe modernize or do things more efficiently than we're doing now? Well yes," Donovan said. "And I'm going to look at those things."

Neil has worn many hats within the sheriff's office, and feels that one way to tackle the budget issue is to join forces with other agencies.

"I will be working with the other agencies," Neil said. "That doesn't cost anything. That's just something that needs to be done."

Both gentlemen feel that they have the experience needed to take the sheriff's office to the next level.

The race for sheriff is just one of many local races that will be important in Tuesday's election.

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