Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Chowchilla police chief joins Madera sheriff’s race

Chowchilla police Chief Jay Varney announced plans Wednesday to run for Madera County sheriff next November.

Varney, who has 30 years experience in law enforcement, is seeking the post currently held by John Anderson, who plans to retire next year.

He joins Madera County Undersheriff Michael Salvador, retired California Highway Patrol Sgt. Dennis Fairbanks and Fresno police Sgt. Greg Noll in the campaign to replace Anderson.

Jay Varney

Varney, 52, says he began his law enforcement career in Dallas where he rose to sergeant and led a felony team. He moved back to his hometown of Lansing, Mich., in 1993 where he reached lieutenant.

He became chief of the Chowchilla Police Department in 2004. The department has 17 sworn officers, two reserves and six community service officers.

In addition to being police chief, Varney also was named city administrator from July 2009 to April 2011.

Chowchilla has a population of about 18,500 that includes two state prisons.

Varney’s work as city administrator, he said, makes him uniquely qualified to serve as sheriff: “I have worked in just about every kind of environment. I am still excited about law enforcement and about being a leader.”

Varney has a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a Master’s degree in criminology from Fresno State.

He serves as a licensed presenter for Pointman Leadership Institute and has traveled internationally training others in leadership and integrity.

Varney and his wife, Amy, live in Chowchilla, and have two children.

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