The Perry County Commission and administration office are currently reviewing the processes and procedures to be followed to fill the sheriff seat that will be vacated at the end of the month by Gary Schaaf.
Schaaf’s resignation is effective at 11:59 pm, September 30. His current term of office is set to conclude on December 31, 2024.
Commissioners Mike Sauer, Jay Wengert and Keith Hoehn met in regular session on Monday with Perry County Clerk Jared Kutz to discuss the task of ensuring continuity of leadership in the sheriff’s office.
As it stands, the commission intends to appoint an interim sheriff, prior to Schaaf’s vacating the position at the end of the month. The commission-appointed individual will not assume the role of acting sheriff until 12 am on October 1.
“To ensure there are no lapses in leadership, we want to have an individual lined up to take over immediately following Gary’s retirement,” Sauer said. “As a commission, we have decided the best course of action for the department is to select a person who currently serves the sheriff’s department in order to maintain a smooth-running operation until a more permanent appointment can be made.”
In the absence of a sitting sheriff, state statute requires a county’s corner fulfills the duties of sheriff. William Bohnert is the current elected coroner for Perry County. Bohnert first took office in 2017 after a lengthy career in law enforcement.
“Coroner Bohnert said he would serve in the capacity of sheriff if needed,” Sauer said, “However we feel it best to go the route of filling the role from within the department.”
Clerk Kutz said the governing statute to replace an elected sheriff previously required a special county-wide election be called within ten weeks of the seat’s vacancy. However, it was determined that the governing statute changed in August of 2018.
“When we experience uncharted territory as a county, it is my practice to consult with other counties who have experience in similar matters,” Kutz said. “The most recent occurrence of a sheriff’s vacancy occurred that I was initially aware of was in Cape Girardeau County in 2018, but statute changed.”
According to Missouri statute Sec. 105.030.2, “when any vacancy, occurs or exists in any county office, the county commission shall no later than 14 days after the occurrence of the vacancy, fill the vacancy by appointment.”
Kutz said, “For the majority of county-elected offices, the governor makes the appointment to fill the remainder of an office holder’s term, with the exception of the county sheriff.”
Sauer said the interim appointment to be announced prior to Schaaf’s retirement would be a temporary solution until the commission could accept letters of interest and resumes from qualified Perry County residents who want to serve as county sheriff for the remainder of the current term.
“An interim appointment gives us time to vet qualified candidates to serve as sheriff through 2024,” Sauer said. “We are also seeking the recommendations from both the Republican and Democratic Central Committees of Perry County on who they would like to see fill the role.”
From now, until Monday, October 10, the commission will be taking letters of interest and resumes of those wanting to serve as county sheriff until the end of the current term in 2024. Applicant submittals must be delivered in person to the Perry County Clerk’s Office located at 321 N Main St. Ste 2, Perryville during regular business hours. Those interested in the position of sheriff need to be available for an in-person interview with the commission on October 13 during regular business hours. Telephone interviews will not be conducted.
To serve as sheriff, an individual must be able to meet the following requirements:
- Has a valid peace office license at the time of filing for office
- No felony convictions
- Resident taxpayer and Registered Voter of the county
- Resident of the county for more than 1 year before filing for office
- Capable of efficient law enforcement
- Citizen of the United States
- Resident of the state 1 year next preceding election
- Is not delinquent in the payment of any state income taxes, personal property taxes, municipal taxes, real property taxes on the place of residence as stated in the declaration of candidacy
- Is not a past or present corporate officer of any fee office that owes any taxes to the state