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Ex-Pima County Sheriff Napier hired in county government role
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Ex-Pima County Sheriff Napier hired in county government role

Mark Napier, former Pima County sheriff, has landed a new government role in county administration.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said Napier will take charge on Aug. 2 of four county departments: the office of emergency management, public defense services, facilities management and interoperable communication systems.

The job will pay him $152,000 a year.

Napier, a Republican, served one term as sheriff starting in 2016 after ousting current Sheriff Chris Nanos from the position.

In 2020, Napier lost his re-election bid to Nanos, a Democrat, in a contentious election campaign, which culminated in Napier threatening the current sheriff with a defamation lawsuit.

Although Napier has experience serving as the county’s top law enforcement officer, his new role won’t involve oversight of criminal justice initiatives.

Huckelberry said he spoke with Napier about “not interacting at all with the sheriff’s department.”

“That’s something that I’ve told him to stay away from, which he agrees,” he said.

Napier is taking over for Wendy Peterson, assistant county administrator, who will retire on Friday. He’s also filling the position of John Voorhees, former assistant county administrator, who’s taken a job with the Tucson Airport Authority.

Although Peterson’s role involved overseeing the Criminal Justice Reform Unit, Huckelberry says the task won’t be Napier’s responsibility.

The unit will become a larger department headed by Kate Vesely, a promotion from her current role as director of reform initiatives.

After losing the election in November 2020, Napier became chief of staff for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office. While the new role in county administration brings an end to his nearly 40 years in law enforcement, Napier said he’s looking forward to his new career.

“I’m just honored to have the opportunity and to be back to be able to serve the people of Pima County again,” he said. “It’s hardly law enforcement, but it’s an amazing opportunity. Pima County is my home, and I’m very gratified to be able to serve the county again.”

Although Napier’s new duties won’t directly involve the Sheriff’s Department, Nanos said he believes the two can work together despite the combative nature of the last election.

“Just because we’re political rivals doesn’t mean we can’t work together,” he said. “Elections are ugly, and people can get ugly — it’s just part of the world, and I apologize for that. The real issue is, how can you be a professional and work well with others? And I think I can, and I think Mark can.”

While Huckelberry said he’s had some informal discussions with the Board of Supervisors, he plans to officially announce Napier’s new role next week.

The county administrator said Napier’s skills in leadership influenced his decision to hire him.

“My experience with him previously is that he is a good manager,” Huckelberry said. “That’s what I’m looking for. I’m not looking for a politician, not looking for a sheriff. I’m not looking for anyone other than a good manager.”

Contact reporter Nicole Ludden


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Nicole joined the Star in 2021. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at ASU’s Cronkite school in 2020 and has won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, AC Press and Arizona Press Club.

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