After more than 15 years as the county’s lead prosecutor, District Attorney Gerry Shea announced Monday that he will not seek re-election next year.
“Fifteen and a half years as DA and 37 in the office, it seems time,” Shea said just before sending a memo to his office making the announcement.
Shea, who was re-elected three times, will retire after his current term expires in January 2015.
His announcement could bring about several candidates for his successor. The filing period to run for the position begins in February, and a primary election will be held in June.
Shea, 65, began his career in 1974 as a deputy with the California Attorney General’s Office in Los Angeles, handling criminal appellate cases and trial cases in the state. In 1977, he became a deputy district attorney in San Luis Obispo County, where he prosecuted misdemeanor and felony cases. He was selected as chief deputy for the office in 1985.
His predecessor, Barry LaBarbera, left the position he’d occupied for 12 years after then-Gov. Pete Wilson appointed him as Superior Court judge.
Shea announced his intention to run for district attorney in February 1998. In the primary election, he won 70 percent of the vote, defeating Terry O’Farrell, a former prosecutor and defense attorney.
A San Diego native, Shea earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from San Diego State in 1971 and a law degree from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in 1974.
During Shea’s tenure, his office obtained convictions in 64 murder cases, according to a news release from his office. The news release said his office has placed a higher emphasis on assisting crime victims and enhancing services to the public in response to elder abuse, gang activity, environmental crimes, juvenile crimes and real estate fraud.
His decision to not seek re-election will further alter the leadership at the office.
Last year, Dan Hilford, the former assistant district attorney — second in command at the office — retired after a 40-year career. He was succeeded by Tim Covello.