Brian Pixley among five Columbia County elected officials sworn in to office Jan. 2

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Annette Pixley pins a sheriffs badge on her husband, Brian Pixley, shortly after he is sworn in for his first term as sheriff Wednesday, Jan. 2.Columbia County officially has a new sheriff in town.

Brian Pixley was sworn in as sheriff during a ceremony Wednesday morning, Jan. 2, after being elected sheriff during the Nov. 6 general election.

Flanked by Columbia County Sheriff's Office officials, family and county commissioners, Pixley took the oath of office for the first time as sheriff before being joined on the Columbia County Courthouse steps by his wife, who pinned stars and a sheriff's badge on his uniform.

Pixley called his first day in the new role "a dream."

"I get to go back to the office after this," Pixley remarked after the swearing-in ceremony. "It's a normal day at work, trying to build on the Sheriff's Office."

The new sheriff said current Chief Deputy Steve Salle, who was appointed to the position by former Sheriff Jeff Dickerson, will continue to serve in that role for the time being, but he plans to solicit applicants for chief deputy some time over the coming months.

Pixley, who previously served as a lieutenant at CCSO, campaigned for county sheriff last year after Dickerson announced his plans to retire from the Sheriff's Office early, leaving in June rather than finishing out his term in 2019.

He was one of three candidates for the elected position and the only current Sheriff's Office employee to seek office.

Pixley, who had previously worked for the county, re-joined the Sheriff's Office in 2010 as a deputy. He served as a sergeant before being promoted to lieutenant in 2018.

Pixley takes the helm after a bit of a rocky road for the Sheriff's Office, which saw four key employees, including the former sheriff, leave in 2018. CCSO also took on a key role in animal control and sheltering operations in the county in 2018 and was the subject of a lawsuit over jail practices that was eventually settled, before being named in another lawsuit targeting the jail, which is still pending.

Aside from Pixley, four other county officials were also sworn in Wednesday.

District Attorney Jeff Auxier, County Clerk Betty Huser, Commissioner Henry Heimuller and Assessor Sue Martin each took the oath of office.

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