Steamboat Springs After serving 12 years as Routt County sheriff, John Warner will not seek a fourth term.
"I've been the longest-serving sheriff in Routt County in 30 years," Warner said. "I'm prepared to walk out the front door of the Sheriff's Office next January proudly, with a smile on my face, on my own terms and not out the back door under someone else's terms," he said.
"I don't think people understand the responsibilities the sheriff has. It's a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, full-time job. It's a huge responsibility," he said.
Warner said he has discussed his decision not to run for another term with family and community members for about six months. Those discussions helped him decide he wanted to do other things with his life.
"I look forward to taking a nice long vacation without having to carry a cell phone or a pager or a radio. That's the first thing I am going to start with," he said.
Warner said his reasons for not seeking a record fourth term have nothing to do with how the race is shaping up or Steamboat Springs police Officer Dwight Murphy's candidacy, which was announced last month.
"I've been approached by a lot of people over the months. I have no doubt in my mind that had I chosen to run, I would have been re-elected," Warner said. "My decision had nothing to do with any current or future candidate."
However, Warner said he is eager to watch the campaign take shape during the next 10 months. A new sheriff might bring some fresh ideas and leadership to the department, he said.
"As Routt County gets bigger, so do the challenges. I have no regrets about what I have done here. It's been a great ride, and I am proud of what I have accomplished, but maybe it's time for a change," he said.
Warner said "only fools predict politics," but he anticipates a heated and exciting sheriff's race. Warner thinks at least one more Republican candidate -- Murphy is a Republican -- and a Democratic candidate will announce their candidacies.
"All I am saying right now is that I will endorse a candidate to replace me in 2007. I'm not saying who that is or when that will be," he said.
Warner said talk about the next sheriff won't detract him from his job.
"I've got a year left to finish the term I was elected to. My goal is to not overspend our budget and to play a part in building our new justice center," he said.
When he reflects upon his time as sheriff, Warner said, he particularly is proud of starting the Elder and Ranch Watch programs. The programs provide a safety network for the county's ranchers and elderly residents.
"I want my supporters to know that I thank everyone who has supported me and the Routt County Sheriff's Office. The trust that has been given to me has been amazing. I've always enjoyed knowing that the positive times have outweighed the bad," he said.
"Don't be shocked. Be ready to go to work and elect the next best candidate for sheriff."
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