Between swearing in deputies, making the rounds of Union County's townships and responding to several hundred congratulatory email messages, new Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton has had a busy first week on the job.

Between swearing in deputies, making the rounds of Union County's townships and responding to several hundred congratulatory email messages, new Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton has had a busy first week on the job.

Patton was sworn in by Union County Common Pleas Court Judge Don Fraser on April 18 before a crowded gallery in the Union County courthouse. Patton was appointed by the Union County Republican Central Committee to take over the remainder of the term left by former Sheriff Rocky Nelson, who is now in charge of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission. Patton said he intends to run for election when the term expires.

"No ifs, ands or buts," he said.

Patton, 41, has built a working knowledge of the Union County Sheriff's Office over the past 20 years, working his way through the ranks to the position of lieutenant, serving as commander of the office's investigations division since 2000. As sheriff, his former position is one he intends to leave empty for now, Patton said.

"Right now I'm not going to fill my old position, but I'm not going to abolish it," he said. "We'll shelve it for now and keep that salary available. I want to save that salary for the unknown, particularly since we're expecting to see more cuts in local government funding."

One of his three top priorities, Patton said, will be to stay within budget.

"There's definitely funding and grants out there for things such as major-crimes task forces, and we are seeking that funding," he said. "My other goals are to get my hands around the office's budget and see where we are. We have a responsibility to the residents, who are dealing with their own economic restraints. Whether you're a CEO or a spouse responsible for the family checkbook, everyone right now is looking at the same type of problems."

Keeping the office's budget in check also will include turning an eye to what programs it offers, Patton said.

"We'll be looking at our programs and projects, seeing what resources we have devoted to them and whether or not some of those programs are just in their beginning stages or already established," he said. "Some of the programs we offer might be great ideas when staffing isn't an issue, but you may need to rethink some of them when the money just isn't there. We can always put something on the shelf. I think if we can save money in this area, that's more of our people we can keep on the streets."

Whether that could include returning any of the 10 deputies who were laid off last year is uncertain.

"I'd love to (bring them back). Most, if not all of them, though, have retained jobs elsewhere," Patton said. "We have two who have been rehired into our dispatch area. If we have the option, we may look at some of those (positions) that were laid off."

Though addressing the office's budget is a main concern, Patton said, he intends to balance administrative duties with face-to-face work in the county, pulling from the different leadership styles of the sheriffs for whom he has worked.

"(Former Hardin County Sheriff George Smith) was a real, old-school working sheriff. (Former Union County Sheriff John Overly) was effective on the administrative side, and Rocky was a mix of both of those," Patton said. "I see myself as being similar to that. You have to find the right balance of the two that you're comfortable with."