AUBURN — The sheriff of Androscoggin County announced Tuesday that he would not seek a third term.
Guy Desjardins, 59, said he wants to find a new occupation when his current term ends Dec. 31, 2014.
"I'll be almost 62 years old," he said. "I'll still have some work time left in me, I hope. I'll want to try something new."
Desjardins alerted county commissioners of his decision in a letter dated May 20.
"I am at a point in my life that a change is necessary, not only for my family and I, but also to allow our great organization an opportunity to move forward for the future," he wrote.
The sheriff felt he had to alert commissioners early because of a recent change in Maine law that requires commissioners to set a sheriff's salary prior to the start of an election year. With commissioners headed into budget talks later this summer, he felt it was time to announce his decision.
"This way, they know," Desjardins said.
He's known for months, since the county ended its long debate over dispatching.
That debate, which started before his 2006 election, brought out differences among the county's 14 towns. Desjardins, who lives in Sabattus and formerly served as a selectman, was particularly stung by his own town's decision to sign a dispatching deal with Lisbon rather than continue with the county service.
"That hurt," he said.
By the time his term ends, he will have spent about 37 years in law enforcement, including 10 years as Sabattus police chief, 11 years as the county's chief deputy and eight years as sheriff.
Desjardins came into office after a battering primary race against longtime Sheriff Ronald Gagnon and an election recount.
Once in office, Desjardins fought with commissioners over the salary for his choice of chief deputy, Eric Samson. He also fought with commissioners when they disagreed that the sheriff had the authority to hire budgeted patrol positions. That issue landed him in court.
In 2010, Desjardins ran for re-election and won against Samson. Since then, the sheriff has been involved in endless debates over dispatching. And most recently, he struggled with the state over funding for the Androscoggin County Jail. That struggle likely will continue for months.
"Trying to get something done can be so tiresome," Desjardins said.
However, he is proud of what he's achieved alongside his captains, Jail Administrator John Lebel and Patrol Division leader Raymond Lafrance.
"It's not just me," Desjardins said. The Sheriff's Department has managed to thrive despite lean budgets and controversy.
Among his administration's accomplishments, Desjardins cited frugality, saving money whenever possible, and transparency.
The sheriff attended meetings in every town to answer questions about the department and urged town officials and citizens to bring their issues to him. He became a lightning rod among county leaders and even had his name painted on every Sheriff's Department cruiser.
"I wanted people to know who the sheriff was," he said.
He's ready for the remaining 18 months on the job, but he'll be ready to leave when his term ends.
And though people may suggest it, he is unlikely to seek another elected office, he said.
"I'm not going to say no to anything. It's too early," he said. "But I need to get away from politics for a while."