MERCED COUNTY — As Sheriff Mark Pazin publicly announced his retirement Friday from the Merced County Sheriffs Department, he noted that the 2014 campaign season is upon us.
Pazin, 57, confirmed he is stepping down from the Sheriffs Department to accept an appointment as chief of the California Governors Office of Emergency Services Law Enforcement Branch.
Undersheriff Tom Cavallero is expected to be appointed by the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to complete the final year of Pazins term in office, according to the board agenda released Friday.
Cavallero, 49, insisted it is still too early to consider the 2014 campaign and declined to answer questions about the election, at least until the Board of Supervisors weighs in next week.
I dont think its appropriate for me to even consider answering that question at this time, Cavallero said. I dont want to do anything that would diminish or interfere with the process.
Cavallero said ensuring a stable transition for the public is his main focus as Pazin prepares to leave office.
But Pazins departure opens the field to many potential candidates. One veteran law enforcement official on Friday confirmed his intentions to run for sheriff, while another said he is considering a bid for the office.
Frank Swiggart, a longtime sheriff's deputy who has been head of the Merced College Police Department for the last three years, told the Sun-Star he intends to run for sheriff in 2014.
Sheriff Pazin does leave some big shoes to fill, but I think Im up for it, definitely, said Swiggart, 47.
Pat Lunney, chief investigator at the Merced County District Attorneys Office and a former Merced police chief, also told the Sun-Star he is strongly considering making a bid for sheriff. Lunney, 66, will likely make some type of an announcement next week.
Im not ready to confirm whether Im running today. I have a lot of supporters Id like to talk to first, and Im very flattered to be approached and considered, Lunney. I will say that, over the years, I think Ive developed a management style that would fit very well in the Sheriffs Department and would be very effective.
According to the Merced County Elections Office, candidates can pull papers to seek office beginning Dec. 30. The 2014 campaign season could be a busy one with two races each for the Board of Supervisors and the Merced County Superior Court bench, as well as all county offices including the district attorney, auditor, assessor, treasurer-tax collector and the sheriff.
For his part, Pazin said he would not endorse any candidate or weigh in on the sheriffs campaign next year, saying that, in his new role with the governors office, it would not be appropriate.
Im a governors appointee, so I wont get involved in that, Pazin said. I can guarantee you that.
This story has been corrected from an earlier version.
Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 385-2482.