TYLER, TX (KLTV) - J.B. Smith has been sheriff of Smith County for more than 30 years, but Tuesday, he announced he is retiring. Sheriff Smith announced he will not run in the 2012 elections, but will actively serve as sheriff until then.
It was at Tuesday's press conference where Sheriff Smith made another big announcement - endorsing his chief deputy, Bobby Garmon. He will run on the Republican ticket in 2012 for Smith County Sheriff.
"Ronald Reagan was a great speaker, but I can shoot straight and I will work hard for you," said Garmon.
Sheriff Smith says it was a tough, emotional decision not to run for re-election. But, he promised he will stay actively involved in some capacity even after his term is up.
"I want to continue serving the people of this community until I die," he said.
Chief Deputy Garmon has worked his way up the ranks with the Smith County Sheriff's Department for more than 30 years. Sheriff Smith says it is that experience he hopes voters take into account when they head to the polls.
"He supervises 355 personnel [and] 1,000 prisoners," said Smith. "We feed 3,000 meals a day [with a] $27,000,000 budget. This is big business. This is not something that an amateur needs to walk in and think they can run."
"I think I bring experience, is the main thing," said Garmon. "I think that the day that Sheriff Smith retires, I can step right in without seeing any interruptions in the sheriff's office."
Sheriff Smith says he wanted to give candidates plenty of time to get prepared, but reminded everyone his days as sheriff are not up yet.
"I still have approximately two years and seven months left on my ninth term of office and I have full intentions of serving every day of it," he said.
A lot has taken place since 1976 under Sheriff Smith's watch.
Smith says he knows of at least six people so far who plan on running for Smith County Sheriff in 2012.
Other people say they are considering running for sheriff, but they can't announce their decision for fear of losing their current job.
Meanwhile, Donn Rust, a captain of the Precinct Three Constable's Office, has confirmed that he will be running for the position.
Rust says he has more than 25 years of private business experience. He was the director of national accounts for Ben E. Keith Company before donating his time to the county. He has already started campaigning and says his goal is to make sheriff's department expenses accessible to the public.
"Whenever there is a $27,000,000 budget, and nobody really knows where that money is going and you are always asking for more money, there is something wrong with that," said Captain Donn Rust. "We can't let the bad guys keep taking our money, and that's what they are doing and we are allowing it."
Rust says he will make an official announcement when the filing period begins.