Jefferson County Sheriff Marc Heckathorn, who was voted out of office in last month’s Oregon primary, will step down from the job six months before the end of his term. Heckathorn sent a letter to sheriff’s office staff announcing his separation.
Additionally, Heckathorn will receive severance pay — reportedly equal to what he would have been paid if he stayed on the job.
“I just signed a negotiated separation agreement between myself and Jefferson County,” Heckathorn wrote in his letter. “My last day as Sheriff is June 20th but I’ll take some vacation days off leading up to that day. The commission will appoint an interim Sheriff at their next meeting on the 8th and that person will take over on the 20th.”
Heckathorn wrote that he expected Deputy Jason Pollock to be placed in the interim Sheriff role. Pollock defeated Heckthorn 52.20% to 43.57% in the primary and will reportedly be the only candidate on the ballot in November.
“This will allow him to start diving into the work that needs done immediately without waiting for the November election to conclude and the new Sheriff term to start in January 2023,” Heckathorn wrote.
The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to pay Heckathorn a severance, which the Madras Pioneer reports equals $82,625. That’s what he would have made if he stayed through the end of his term in December.
“My decision to support a severance agreement with Sheriff Heckathorn is based upon significantly reducing the chance of employment lawsuits that have plagued other Central Oregon law enforcement agencies,” Commissioner Kelly Simmelink said in a statement. “The additional benefit is to move Jason Pollack into the leadership position of Sheriff. The voters of Jefferson County should be the ones deciding who is Sheriff, not the Board of County Commissioners.”
Heckathorn was appointed sheriff in July 2021 after former Sheriff Jim Adkins retired.
Pollock received key endorsements from Adkins and from Jefferson County District Attorney Steve Leriche before the election.
Heckathorn becomes the latest high-profile official to step down before the end of their terms. Former Bend Mayor Sally Russell and Bend City Councilor Rita Schenkelberg both left office on May 18. Bend is now trying to fill those two city council positions.