“I’ve always been loyal to the people of Houston County, our deputies, and our department,” Valenza said shortly after winning out over six other candidates. In fact, despite needing majority of votes from the committee, he was selected on the first ballot.
“I will keep the Houston County Sheriff’s Office functioning the way it has the past 7 ½ years,” Valenza said. That’s the time he’s served as chief deputy under Hughes. Previously, he held several jobs on the force.
Valenza said he never planned to seek the job because of loyalty to the four sheriffs he’s served since joining the department in the 1970’s. However, when Hughes announced he’s accepted a job as the Assistant Director of Homeland Security in Alabama the opportunity presented itself. “When I saw Sheriff Hughes was leaving I just wanted to make sure that our department goes in a positive direction,” he said.
Valenza is now only the Republican nominee selected to replace Hughes on the November ballot. But because there is no Democratic opposition he’s all but assured of victory. Only a successful write-in campaign would prevent Valenza from becoming sheriff in January.
However, he’ll likely assume the duties in a couple of weeks. Republicans are asking Governor Robert Bentley to appoint Valenza to serve the final few months of Hughes’ unexpired term.