Swearing-in ceremony welcomes back familiar faces
Six Putnam County constitutional officers took an oath of office Tuesday as they were sworn in at the Putnam County Government Complex.
Five officials – County Court Judge Elizabeth Morris, Sheriff Gator DeLoach, Tax Collector Linda Myers, Property Appraiser Tim Parker and Supervisor of Elections Charles Overturf III – returned for another term.
However, Matt Reynolds, Putnam County clerk of courts and comptroller, is a constitutional newcomer. He took office Friday after lifelong Palatka resident and 20-year Clerk Tim Smith retired in 2020.
Reynolds was officially sworn in to office Tuesday but because Smith retired early, the new clerk of courts took over the office Jan. 1.
“When I started my career in public service, I didn’t know that I would end up here, but I am truly thankful for it,” Reynolds said. “And anyone who knows me knows that I care deeply about Putnam County. I only want to see the best for Putnam County and that is what I’m committed to.”
Since being elected, Reynolds has undergone training, read a 60-page transition guide and transferred accounts from Smith’s name to his own. He does not plan to fill former Chief Deputy Clerk of Courts Kenny Downs’ position yet. He said it’s likely he would fill the chief deputy spot further into the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, to make sure office funds are sufficient.
“The 60 pages of the transition guide was kind of overwhelming to see at first but we’re working through the transition checklist now and I think things are going to go very well,” he said last week.
Reynolds won his seat in the August primary with 6,627 votes against Downs and Hawthorne resident Doug McClure.
Many of the constitutional officers sworn in Tuesday ran unopposed, but not Sheriff Gator DeLoach, who was sworn in for a second term after beating opponent Edison Edison by more than 20,000 votes in November.
DeLoach said last year’s election looked different than the 2016 election. Vote calculations in 2016 tipped in DeLoach’s favor after overseas ballots postmarked on Election Day were counted. Republican Jon Kinney originally won, but 16 votes upset the outcome and deemed DeLoach the winner.
“There was a lot of uncertainty then, but the voters of Putnam County spoke and gave me a mandate and said they wanted some change in the sheriff’s office,” DeLoach said. “We could spend all day talking about some of those changes and some of our successes, but I would be remiss if I didn’t thank each of you for coming (to the ceremony) today and the voters of Putnam County for having the confidence in me to lead the sheriff’s office here.”
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