MADERA — Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney is trading his badge and uniform for a suit, tie and fourth-floor office at the Madera County Government Center.
The surprise announcement introducing Varney as Madera County’s new top administrator took place at a press conference held Wednesday morning at the Madera County Government Center.
“Throughout my career, I have been a results-oriented, problem-solving team builder,” Varney said during his first campaign for office — and those skills should serve him well in his new position running a county with 1,400 employees and a $350 million annual budget.
Madera County Board of Supervisors Chairman David Rogers made the surprise announcement at the press conference with Varney and fellow Supervisor Rob Poythress.
Once formally approved by supervisors on June 2, Varney will officially resign as Sheriff/Coroner and start his new job as CAO. “I am honored and excited to be considered for this opportunity to further the growth of Madera County,” he said Wednesday.
District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler thinks the sheriff is well suited to take over the daily management of county operations.
“I think it’s a great move for us,” Wheeler said Wednesday. “Jay’s going to do one heck of a job. He’s got integrity. He’s got the smarts and leadership experience. I don’t think we could have found a better person.”
Sheriff Varney, who is in his second term of office, was first elected in 2015. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in Criminology from Fresno State. He is also a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where he earned a graduate certificate in Criminal Justice Education from the University of Virginia.
In addition to his four decades of law enforcement experience, Varney, also has had substantial experience as an administrator and manager. Before he was elected sheriff, Varney was the police chief in Chowchilla and also served for two years as the city manager.
Varney, 59, a native of Lansing, Michigan, started his law enforcement career in Dallas, Texas, and later returned to Lansing where he served with the local police department for nearly ten years before moving to Chowchilla with his wife Amy and two children to become police chief.
Varney’s pick as his successor, Undersheriff Tyson Pogue, is expected to become Madera County’s new sheriff after getting the thumbs up from supervisors at their June 2 meeting.
Varney’s current term of office expires in 2022.
An Oakhurst native, Pogue is 19-year veteran of the Madera County Sheriff’s Office and also a recent graduate of the FBI National Academy.
A lifelong Madera County resident, Pogue began his law enforcement career as a mountain patrol deputy with MCSO and also has worked extensively with the department’s K-9 squad, dive team and narcotics unit. He and his wife Melissa have three children. Their oldest son, Josh, is currently serving in the Navy.
“I take great pride in our department and my community,” Pogue states on MCSO’s Facebook page.
Madera County’s former CAO, Eric Flemming, left his position in December 2019 after ten years on the job. Deputy County Administrative Officer Darin McCandless had been serving as interim CAO since Flemming’s departure.