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Summit County Sheriff expects vote on his U.S. Marshal nomination soon

Justin Martinez and Frank Smith.jpg
KPCW
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Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez has tapped his Chief Deputy Frank Smith to serve as interim sheriff if he receives Senate confirmation.

Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez is still in a holding pattern as he awaits confirmation for his new post as U.S. Marshal for the District of Utah. In the meantime, he’s preparing his office for the likely change-up.

Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez expects it will be February or March before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee makes a recommendation on his appointment as U.S. Marshal. That then goes to the full Senate floor for a vote.

The day that happens he says is the day that he will resign as sheriff even though he was just re-elected in November.

“I think I've learned a lot of things in my life, that you never know what's going to happen. I'm not going to make any assumptions; I have a lot of hope that it will happen. But I don't want to make the assumption and put the cart before the horse. I gotta go through the process. And I'm hopeful it's going to happen. I believe it will happen. But you just never know what will occur in the U.S. Senate. So, barring any major problems, it should come to resolution.

The sheriff’s office is a partisan elected position. Martinez is a Democrat, but said he believes the office should serve people rather than a party, especially since he doesn’t set policy.

Once he resigns, he’ll said he’ll hand over the reins to his deputy chief, Frank Smith, who is a registered Democrat.

“I've been in law enforcement, approximately 35 years,” Smith said. “I was a federal agent most of the time. I retired in 2014, as a special agent in charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, here in Salt Lake City. At that time, Justin and I were friends, and he was looking at going in a different direction, bringing somebody in from the outside for the operational aspect of the sheriff's office, and I was fortunate enough to get the position, which has been a blessing. It's so nice to serve in your community where you live, because you have a real impact on the people that your kids go to school with.”

But it will be up to the Summit County Democratic party leadership to decide who will replace Martinez until the next county election in 2024.

Smith says if appointed, he would run for sheriff in 2024 and if elected, would serve a two-year term and would plan to retire after that.

“If I was fortunate enough to get the appointment,” Smith said, “I would run for the two and then I think I'll ride off into the sunset after that. You know, that would be that would be a great opportunity. And it gives you the opportunity to finish a long career serving your community.”

Even though Martinez is a Democrat, both of Utah's Senators, Republicans Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, have endorsed Martinez as the new U.S. Marshal.

Tough but fair, Leslie is the woman most of Park City wakes up with every weekday morning. Leslie has been at KPCW since 1990 and her years at KPCW have given her depth and insight, guiding her as she asks local leaders and citizens the questions on everyone’s minds during the live interviews of the Local News Hour.