Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley said he will not seek re-election in 2020.
First elected as sheriff in 2010, Ashley announced his decision Wednesday while speaking at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Fort Walton Beach.
Although he isn't running for sheriff, Ashley said he's not sure whether or not this will be the end of his nearly 30-year law enforcement career, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Nicole Wagner.
Ashley, who has been with the Sheriff's Office since 1990, was elected in 2010 after the jailing of former Sheriff Charlie Morris, who served a 71-month federal prison sentence for theft, fraud and money laundering. Ashley, a Republican, was re-elected in 2012 and 2016.
According to an earlier Daily News article, some of Ashley's initial goals as the newly-elected sheriff were improving the physical fitness of Sheriff's Office employees and maintaining the state accreditation of the agency. He also said he intended to seek consolidation of communications resources.
At Wednesday's Rotary Club meeting, Ashley said he would support a sheriff's candidate from inside the agency and hoped club members would do so as well.
That someone is Maj. Eric Aden, longtime Okaloosa County resident with a 20-year law enforcement career. Ashley didn't specify if Aden would run as a Republican or Democrat.
"As our current Operations Division major, Eric has proven his commitment to our community and our agency," Ashley said in an email. "He is well respected by his peers and throughout our community, and is always gracious in providing assistance to those seeking his help.
"I have every confidence that he and the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office will maintain our high standards while keeping the agency on track and heading in the right direction."