Douglas County sheriff won’t seek another term, plans to retire in 2020

photo by: Sara Shepherd

Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern is pictured on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at the sheriff's office.

Updated at 2:19 p.m. Wednesday

Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern will retire instead of seeking reelection to a fifth term in 2020, he announced Wednesday.

McGovern, 60, has worked for the sheriff’s office for 37 years and was elected sheriff, as a Republican, in 2004. He said his decision followed lengthy consideration.

“After great discussion and consideration with my family, I’ve determined that I will not be seeking a fifth term as sheriff of Douglas County,” he said.

“Now is the time to step aside.”

McGovern said he planned to remain in his position until a new sheriff is elected.

When that time comes, McGovern said he is endorsing Undersheriff Gary Bunting for the job. He said he’d been “mentoring” Bunting for the past several years as the office has worked on tackling plans for expanding the jail and other programs to alleviate overcrowding there, including through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

“Gary’s been an integral part of those details,” McGovern said.

McGovern began his career with the sheriff’s office as a corrections officer at the jail. He became a deputy and moved up through the ranks before being elected sheriff.

McGovern’s wife, Beckie, joined him Wednesday in sharing his plans with the Journal-World and a local radio station. McGovern said he did not yet know what he would do after leaving the sheriff’s office but that he planned to stay in this area, where he has family, including children and grandchildren.

The filing deadline to run for sheriff in 2020 is still close to a year away. So far just one candidate has formally filed, county clerk and election officer Jamie Shew confirmed Wednesday.

Jay Armbrister, of Baldwin City, filed in October to run as a Democrat, the Journal-World previously reported. Armbrister has been with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office since 1998, and at the time of his filing held the rank of lieutenant, in the corrections division.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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