Mackenzie reflects on last months

He still has almost six months left in office, but Sheriff Scott Mackenzie is already waxing philosophically about his reign.

Voters denied Mackenzie a second term in March, handing opponent Perry Reniff the role of the county’s top cop. The election was hard-fought and bitter, as the acrimony between Mackenzie and Reniff oozed to the surface.

But while Mackenzie’s impending departure has made him a lame duck, he has no plans to leave the office early. His term ends in January, when Reniff takes the reins of the department.

Mackenzie, who’s 54, said this week that he’ll retire then, but not before.

Reflecting on his term, he acknowledged that he still hasn’t done all he set out to do when he took office. He wanted to “breathe some fresh air” into a department that many county insiders felt had grown stale under the administration of Sheriff Mick Grey, who preceded Mackenzie.

This week, Mackenzie said he’s not sure if he was completely successful.

“I don’t feel we’ve finished what we set out to do, what we needed to do completely,” he said. “Things just didn’t work out the way I hoped. … I think we’ve turned the ship around partially, but there’s a ways to go.”

Because he lost the job security he enjoyed as a member of the sheriff’s deputy union when he was elected sheriff, Mackenzie, a 32-year department veteran, would have to start out again as a patrol deputy if he didn’t retire. He blamed “dirty campaigning” for his loss to Reniff, and said he’s proud of his campaign’s “decorum.”

“I think it’s easy to wallow around in the mud and throw mud at people,” he said. “My campaign didn’t do that.”

During the campaign, Reniff criticized Mackenzie for overspending his budget and alleged that he needlessly spent thousands of dollars to rent helicopters.

Choosing his words carefully, Reniff, who was busted in rank from assistant sheriff to sergeant when Mackenzie was elected, said it’s been “interesting” working in the same office with Mackenzie again, but declined to say more about their professional relationship. However, he complained bitterly this spring when Mackenzie promoted seven deputies to supervisorial positions—positions they will maintain in Reniff’s administration—without first notifying him.

Mackenzie may be on his way out of office, but he acknowledged he may not be out of the political business for good. When asked if he had considered running for office again, he hinted that he might. There have been rumors he has his eye on an assembly seat.

"I never say never," he said. "I won’t say no and I won’t say yes, because you just never know what’s going to happen a week from now or a year from now. You just never know."