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Sheriff Bill Gore retiring early, candidates line up for election

San Diego County Board of Supervisors is set to appoint a non-candidate in March to serve out Gore's term.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, 74, has announced he will be retiring early from his long-held position. In March, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is set to appoint Gore’s interim replacement. Candidates to replace Sheriff Gore already are lined up for the primary election in June.

The big question for Sheriff Gore: Why is he retiring 10 months before the end of his current term in office? Gore told CBS 8 his wife is sick and she needs his support.

“To be quite honest, I don't think I was doing that good a job, spending half time with my wife and half time with the job. I felt like I wasn't doing either one of them as well as I would like,” Gore said.

Sheriff Gore has endorsed his number-two in command, Undersheriff Kelly Martinez, as a candidate for his replacement. Martinez has been with the sheriff's department for more than three decades.

“I know everyone in the organization. I really understand what it's like to drive a patrol car in the county in the middle of the night. I worked the beat. I worked investigations in our department. I know every aspect of what we do,” Martinez said.

Critics said Martinez is too close to Sheriff Gore. They point to a high death rate in the county jails and data showing racial profiling by deputies.

“We need more mental health clinicians in the jail to identify people who are in mental health crisis,” said Martinez. “You know, if any community feels unsafe around the deputy sheriffs then we need to fix that.”

Another candidate, former Sheriff Commander Dave Myers, ran against Bill Gore in 2018. He is one of Gore's leading critics.

“He is literally bailing 10 months, 11 months from the end of his final term at a time when the community is looking for leadership,” Myers said.

If you are looking for the status quo in the sheriff's department, look elsewhere, said Myers.

“If people think radical change and honest policing is wrong, then I'm not that person. What I bring is transparency and accountability,” Myers said.

Candidate John Hemmerling is the lead prosecutor in the San Diego City Attorney's criminal division. He is also a former U.S. Marine, and an ex SDPD officer.

“My last time in Iraq, I commanded a battalion. I ran several jails while I was in Iraq. I've been a leader in the police department. I've been a leader in my job as a prosecutor,” Hemmerling said.

He said he is a supporter of Bill Gore, but Hemmerling wants to study and address the high death rate in local jails.

“I think the number one priority I'm going to look at when I first get there is looking at the jails,” Hemmerling said.

Sheriff Bill Gore is retiring weeks before a state audit is due to be released, delving into inmate deaths in San Diego County jails. Gore told CBS 8 that pending audit had nothing to do with his retirement.

None of the candidates running for sheriff said they wanted to be appointed interim sheriff by the county board of supervisors.  And, that seems to be the sentiment by the board as well.

The supervisors are expected to appoint a non-candidate for sheriff in March, to serve out the remainder of Gore’s term.

Voters will go to the polls in the June 2022 primary election to determine which two candidates for sheriff will run-off in the November 2022 election.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore announces retirement and will step down Feb 3

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