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Undersheriff Kelly Martinez will serve as the first female sheriff of San Diego County. Courtesy photo/The Coast News graphic
Undersheriff Kelly Martinez will serve as the first female sheriff of San Diego County. Courtesy photo/The Coast News graphic
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Sheriff-elect Martinez declares victory, appoints leadership

SAN DIEGO COUNTY — Undersheriff Kelly Martinez has emerged victorious in the San Diego County Sheriff’s race against opponent John Hemmerling after her lead exceeded the number of votes remaining to be counted. 

As of Nov. 16, Martinez led Hemmerling by just under 140,000 votes with an estimated 80,000 ballots left to count. She will serve a six-year term as the county’s first female sheriff. 

“I consider the opportunity to serve as your next Sheriff to be a privilege. I am exceptionally proud of the deputies and staff who contribute to our department. I look forward to serving everyone for the next six years,” Martinez said. 

Hemmerling conceded that his campaign no longer has a path to victory, but shared his appreciation for those who supported him and stated his hopes for the department going forward.

“I congratulate Kelly Martinez and wish her strength in the important work ahead to change the culture in the Sheriff’s Department,” Hemmerling said in a campaign message. “While we all sought a different outcome, I am hopeful that she will commit to addressing violent crime, rebuilding morale among the deputies and staff, stopping the senseless deaths in our jails, and restoring the public trust.”

In the wake of her victory, Martinez announced the members of her leadership team this week. Assistant Sheriff Rich Williams will serve as undersheriff — the department’s second in command — and Commander Brian Nevins has been appointed as the new Assistant Sheriff for the Human Resource and Court Services Bureau. 

Members of Martinez's leadership team include Commander Brian Nevins, who will serve as the new assistant sheriff for the Human Resource and Court Services Bureau, and Assistant Sheriff Rich Williams, who will be the new undersheriff. Courtesy photos
Martinez’s leadership team includes Commander Brian Nevins, left, who will serve as the new assistant sheriff for the Human Resource and Court Services Bureau, and Assistant Sheriff Rich Williams as the new undersheriff. Courtesy photos

Williams has served with the Sheriff’s Department for three decades, starting out in the department’s various detention facilities and serving his first patrol at the San Marcos Sheriff’s Station. He was promoted to Commander in 2021, where he oversaw facilities and food services in the Detention Services Bureau, and then to Assistant Sheriff earlier this year.

Nevins joined the department in 1995, working in jails, training recruits and as a patrol officer in Encinitas and Lemon Grove and eventually supervising undercover units and staff at courthouses and internal affairs. His most recent role was overseeing Law Enforcement Services Bureau Patrol Operations.

Current Sheriff Anthony Ray will step down from his interim position by January, after being appointed in April on the heels of Bill Gore’s retirement. Martinez also thanked Ray for his 31 years of service to the department. 

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