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Sheriff Donnie Barrera announces retirement

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Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera announced his retirement, effective May 31, during the Wednesday, May 22 Highland County commissioners meeting. (HCP photo by Caitlin Forsha.)

By Caitlin Forsha
The Highland County Press

Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera announced his retirement, effective May 31, during the Wednesday, May 22 Highland County commissioners meeting.

The sheriff’s early retirement comes after over 30 years at the HCSO, and just shy of a decade as sheriff. Barrera took office as Highland County sheriff Nov. 24, 2014 and has worked for the Sheriff’s Office since 1993, being promoted to sergeant in 1999 and having roles in all divisions of the department.

Barrera submitted a letter announcing his retirement to commissioners Wednesday. 

"It's been a pleasure working for the folks of Highland County," Barrera said. "I will miss all the people I've had the pleasure of serving."

Barrera told commissioners he is looking forward to spending more time with family and pursuing other interests. 

"I plan on finding other work elsewhere in a little less stressful environment," Barrera said. 

The sheriff’s race is set to appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, with Barrera’s term officially expiring Jan. 5, 2025. His replacement has not yet officially been named, but the presumptive choice is Randy Sanders, the Republican nominee and lone candidate on the ballot this fall.

Highland County Republican Party Executive Chair Paulette Donley told The Highland County Press that Barrera met with the Central Committee to announce his early retirement. She said that the group “stood and gave him applause,” as Barrera has been “so well liked” during his tenure.

Donley said that Barrera has also been a selfless department head, “always good about giving praise to the” staff of the Sheriff’s Office “and not himself.

“We as the party thank him for his 30-plus years of public service to the sheriff’s department and as sheriff,” Donley said. “We wish him well in his retirement and thank him profusely for taking this office through a lot of substantially difficult times. We feel that he’s done that honorably, and with the safety and concern for all of the people of Highland County in mind. For that, we thank him.”

Highland County commissioners also praised Barrera for his service to the county.

"Thank you for your service," commission president David Daniels said. "You've done a great job as sheriff."

Daniels said that commissioners intend to appoint Sanders as interim sheriff in an emergency motion after Barrera retires, while the Republican Central Committee plans to meet during the first week of June to officially name their appointment. Donley said that she believes the committee will appoint Sanders as Barrera’s successor.

In the March 19 primary, Sanders won the Republican race for sheriff, defeating former HCSO chief deputy Brandon Stratton (whose employment has since been terminated). No Democratic or independent candidates filed to run.

Sanders is currently the Chief Investigator of the Highland County Task Force, working with the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office with a focus on drug investigations. His career has also included serving with the Hillsboro Police Department, Highland County Sheriff's Office, Southwest Regional Drug Unit, Ross County Sheriff's Office and U.S. 23 Major Crimes Task Force.

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David Anthony Mayer (not verified)

22 May 2024

First off, congratulations to Donnie and thank you for years of service to Highland County. As to the "presumptive appointment", just do it now and with haste. No need to delay this decision. Crime is 24/7.
••••Publisher's note: There is a process for this, and yes, Randy Sanders will be appointed sheriff.

Marianne Chisman (not verified)

23 May 2024

Thank you for your years of impeccable service to the folks of Highland County! Best wishes in your next endeavors-may they bring you many years of safety and as much respect as you have gained in this county. I am sure they will! My respect and thanks!

David H McKenna (not verified)

23 May 2024

I have known Sheriff Barrera since he joined the Department and worked with him closely during his tenure as Highland County Sheriff. He has served the citizens of our community with integrity and dedication. He has always understood that compassion has a role in law enforcement while projecting strength. He has been my friend for many years and I wish him well in the next chapter of his life. We should all be grateful for his many years of service.

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