Monroe County government underwent a makeover of sorts Tuesday in Key West as five new constitutional officers were officially sworn into office.
State Attorney Catherine Vogel, Clerk of the Court Amy Heavilin, Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin, Sheriff Rick Ramsay and Property Appraiser Scott Russell were sworn into office at the Monroe County courthouse in two ceremonies, one at 11 a.m. for the new sheriff and another at 2 p.m. for the other officers.
Outgoing Sheriff Bob Peryam joked that with the swearing in of the new elected officials, county Tax Collector Danise Henriquez became the "senior" constitutional officer. Henriquez, who has been tax collector since 2000, laughed but also offered her institutional knowledge and skills to the freshmen constitutional officers.
Peryam reminded the officeholders that being elected to public office is "a privilege, not a right."
"There is no greater honor than to be elected by the people of Monroe County," he said. "You are good people. Stay on the high road. ... Follow in the footsteps of the people who held that office prior."
State and local leaders packed the courtroom at the Freeman Justice Center to witness the swearing-in ceremonies.
The events, which were standing room only, provided a chance for friends and family to share stories about the elected officials, some of whom "ran hard-fought campaigns and others who earned the stamp of approval and ran unopposed," Peryam said.
Three previous Monroe County sheriffs -- Allison DeFoor, Rick Roth and Peryam -- ribbed the new guy as they recalled how far he had come since becoming a sheriff's deputy in 1987.
That ribbing included such notable career milestones as the time he crashed his police motorcycle in a motorcade, and his capture of a violent suspect at the infamous Boca Chica Lounge as a young road deputy.
"You have grown and blossomed into a wonderful deputy, and you will be a great sheriff," said DeFoor.