Lt. Matt Phillips, the commander of the Clatsop County Jail, will run for sheriff next year.

He is the first candidate to publicly emerge in the May election to replace Sheriff Tom Bergin, who is retiring at the end of the year. Bergin has recommended that the county Board of Commissioners appoint Phillips as interim sheriff after he steps down.


Lt. Matt Phillips plans to run for sheriff.

“I’m really excited about the possibility and opportunity,” Phillips said.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and have been trying to prepare myself in as many ways as possible through education, training and learning how the different divisions within the sheriff’s office work.”

Bergin, who was first elected sheriff in 2004, announced this summer he would retire a year before his term ended following a trying time of dealing with personal matters. He said he is confident he will be leaving the sheriff’s office in good hands.

“I believe Matt is more than capable,” Bergin told county commissioners Wednesday night.

“He’s done an amazing job. We needed someone to run the jail three years ago and he went over there without hesitation from patrol and took the lead and has done anything and everything to turn that place around.

“Obviously, he’s a very integral part of the building of the new jail, as is Chief Deputy (Paul) Williams. So, these two, I have no qualms of leaving this all in their hands.”

Debbie Boothe-Schmidt, a representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2746, encouraged commissioners to follow Bergin’s recommendation and appoint Phillips.

“Lt. Phillips has exhibited superior leadership and unwavering commitment to the sheriff’s office and to the community throughout his 18 years in law enforcement,” Schmidt said.

“He builds collaborative relationships within the agency, within law enforcement and with community stakeholders. He has earned the respect of his colleagues and subordinates.”

Commissioners could consider appointing an interim sheriff at a meeting in November.

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or

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