New Coles County Sheriff Kent Martin takes oath of office


Madelyn Kidd

5th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois presiding Judge Mark Bovard swears in the new Coles County Sheriff Kent Martin at the Coles County Courthouse Thursday morning.

Madelyn Kidd, News Editor

Officers from across Coles County arrived at the Courthouse Thursday morning to witness former Eastern Police Chief Kent Martin being sworn into office as the newly elected Coles County Sheriff.

Martin took the oath of office this morning to begin his career as sheriff. Martin was hired to be chief deputy on Oct. 1 by then Sheriff Tyler Heleine, so Martin could adjust to working at the sheriff’s department.

“I spent that time getting acclimated to the office,” Martin said. “There were a lot of people that work there that I didn’t know, so I’ve got to meet them. [I’ve] been reviewing policies and procedures just trying to get up to speed on [the department’s] way of doing things.”

Heleine talked about hiring Martin earlier to benefit Martin and the office.

“I felt like it was the best thing for the department and the county to allow a smooth transition,” Heleine said. “[It] allowed him to understand the day-to-day operations, how things are now and give him a bigger picture of things moving forward… My main priority was continuing to move [the sheriff’s department] in the right direction.”

One of Martin’s goals as sheriff is to strengthen relationships between the office and other agencies.

“I’m just gonna work to strengthen the relationships between the sheriff’s office and the other agencies out there,” Martin said. “Historically, [we have] worked well together, and I just want to continue that relationship. At the end of the day, we’re all citizens together, regardless of what uniform. So I think it is important that we always continue to cross jurisdictional boundaries and work together to provide the best service.”

Martin said being Eastern’s former chief of police helped prepare him for the role of sheriff by providing him the experience of working with administration.

“It really did a lot to prepare me,” Martin said. “They got me a lot of administrative experience, which is going to be very beneficial for the office of sheriff. Working with the budget, working with the other agencies, and just the administrative tasks that we would all be responsible for on a day-to-day basis.”

Martin took the place of Heleine after Heleine was appointed sheriff by the Coles County Board following the early retirement of James “Jimmy” Rardin.

Rardin retired from the position of sheriff unexpectedly months earlier from the end of his term. 

Rankin signed off for the last time on Feb. 16. In 2021, Rankin announced he would not be running for reelection.

Martin ran against one other Republican candidate for sheriff Stephen Spear. Martin beat Spear in the primaries and was uncontested in the general election.

Martin encouraged the people of Coles County to get a hold of him when they need anything.

“I’ve worked as hard as I can to do my best to the law enforcement services that we can do, and I want to encourage [Coles County] to get a hold of me,” Martin said. “If there’s anything that they need, any questions, they have any problems that arise, and I’m just here to work for them.”


Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].