Veteran Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf informed his top management team a few minutes ago that he will not seek re-election next year.
The announcement is not unexpected although it would not have been out of character for him to change his mind.
A 45-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, where he started as a deputy and was appointed to the top job in 1992, Rupf has been talking about retiring for months. He has even recruited and publicly supported his potential replacement, Concord Police Chief Dave Livingston. (Livingston even has a campaign web site: http://www.livingstonforsheriff.com/)
The 66-year-old lawman had intended to announce his retirement several weeks ago but held off until after the fervor had died down over one of the biggest crime stories to hit Contra Costa County, the appearance of kidnapped victim Jaycee Dugard in a house near Antioch and the arrests of her alleged kidnappers, Phillip and Nancy Garrido.
Rupf tells me that he would have retired as soon as six years ago but felt he was in the best political position to hammer the Board of Supervisors on questions of funding and resources for the Sheriff’s Office.
The prospect of an open seat will likely attract other candidates although Livingston has some obvious advantages: Rupf has been singing Livingston’s praises for several years and as a result, he has had ample advance notice in order to put together a campaign.
Rupf was appointed sheriff in 1992 after then-Sheriff Dick Rainey was elected to the California Assembly. The sheriff was elected in his own right in 1994 and has never had a serious opponent.
The sheriff’s term ends when his replacement takes the oath of office in January 2011. The sheriff’s candidates will run in the June 2010 primary. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff in the November 2010 general election.