At his swearing-in on the courthouse steps Tuesday morning, Sheriff Steve Sikes pledged to serve all the citizens of Liberty County and mend a rift among voters caused by a close runoff election.
“This election has caused quite a division we don’t need in this county,” Sikes said. He pledged to reach out across the divide and pull people back together.
Sikes received 55.56 percent of the vote in a Nov. 30 runoff with opponent Warren Waye. Waye received 44.44 percent of the vote.
Sikes was sworn in by Liberty County Probate Judge Nancy Aspinwall. Sikes’ wife, Dean Sikes, held the Bible for her husband as he took his oath. Afterward, Sikes’ father, former Liberty County Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Vernon Sikes, pinned the sheriff’s badge to his son’s coat pocket. Steve Sikes’ grandfather, the late Paul Sikes, also served as county sheriff.
Aspinwall congratulated Sikes and also thanked Polly Martin for serving as interim sheriff and Liberty County Coroner Reginald Pierce Sr. for serving briefly as acting sheriff. Polly Martin was appointed interim sheriff last June following the death of her husband, Sheriff Don Martin.
“Initially, I accepted this position to allow everyone to get their feet on the ground,” Polly Martin said. Personally, serving as interim sheriff gave her an opportunity to “know Don in a way I never had before,” she said. Martin said she now understands the daily challenges her late husband faced when he was sheriff.
“It has endeared him to me even more,” Martin said.
She added she was “pleased” Sikes was elected sheriff and “feels at peace” now that the county can move forward with a new sheriff.
“My next step is to be a wonderful grandmother,” Martin said.
Sikes said carrying on his family’s law enforcement legacy meant “everything” to him.
“It’s been the most humbling experience of my life to run for public office,” Sikes said. He credited his crowd of supporters for his winning the election and thanked his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” promising to follow the morals of his faith and conduct himself with honor.
Aspinwall announced Sikes’ first duty as sheriff was to administer an oath of duty to his deputies. Sikes said his deputies represent him and therefore the decisions they make must be backed by him.
“With me behind my department and my department behind me, together we will make a better Liberty County,” he said.