Lillywhite to be sworn in as sheriff Tuesday

CENTREVILLE — St. Joseph County Undersheriff Mark Lillywhite will be sworn in as sheriff Tuesday during a ceremony scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Historical Courthouse in Centreville.
County Clerk Lindsay Oswald will swear in Lillywhite to fill the vacancy left by longtime Sheriff Bradley Balk, who is set to retire at month’s end after 11 years at the helm. While Balk is stepping down, his current term doesn’t officially expire for another 11 months, so Lillywhite will at the very least complete that term and could start a full term of his own if he’s elected later this year.
In an interview with the Commercial-News Friday Lillywhite expressed respect and admiration for Balk, who Lillywhite says has taught him a great many things.
“Sheriff Balk and my relationship with him has meant the world to me, he has taught me a lot of valuable things throughout my career along with being his undersheriff,” Lillywhite said. “I believe there are several valuable things he has passed onto me, but the most valuable may be the importance of communication and listening.”
Lillywhite said he feels honored to have been appointed by the county to complete Balk’s final term as sheriff, and looks forward to continuing to serve the community like he has for the past 25 years.
“I’m extremely honored to accept this appointment from the clerk, chief judge and prosecutor,” he said. “I am very blessed to be able to continue to serve the citizens of St. Joseph County. I have worked 25 years at the sheriff’s office and will continue to work hard for the citizens of St Joseph County along with the employees at the sheriff’s office.”
Lillywhite said his new role will be drastically different from his current role as undersheriff.
“The difference between undersheriff and sheriff is night and day,” he said. “The undersheriff’s role is mainly day-to-day operations of the entire facility, to make the sheriff look good, as well as hiring and disciplinary actions. The sheriff is handles public relations for the department, from interactions with the citizens to the business of the county, as well as communications with surrounding agencies and resources. The sheriff is the voice for the department.”
The Three Rivers native said he intends to help the sheriff’s department “continue to be technically innovative and efficient,” and strive to make sure his staff has every tool needed to perform their jobs.
“I want to maintain the level of services the department provides the citizens. I plan to continue to be fiscally responsible, and maintain a good working relationship with all agencies and within the sheriff’s office,” Lillywhite said.
“I want our department to continue to be technically innovative and efficient, and continue to make sure the employees are trained at a high level, and ultimately make sure the employees have the best equipment needed to perform their job.”
Alek Haak-Frost can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or alek@threeriversnews.com.

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