After 40 years in office, Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe announced Thursday that he will not run for re-election when his term is up in 2016.
"I just felt it was the right time," said Ashe.
With many accomplishments in his 40 years in office, Ashe said he had to start at the ground up, focusing on teamwork across the board.
"The key aspect of the job is putting good people in good places," Ashe stated. "I've been so blessed, not only to be elected, but to also having some great people around me. It was always to professionalize this job."
"When you're around him, he just gives you that passion," said William Christofori, an assistant superintendent on Ashe's staff.
Christofori has worked with Ashe for the last 27 years. He said it will not be easy for the staff to watch the sheriff call it a career and it will certainly be tough on the sheriff himself.
"He'll retire in three years, but he'll still be breathing around here," said Christofori. "He'll be the last guy to get rid of. We might have to throw him off the site a couple of times and say 'hey, you don't work here any more sheriff."
As much as he prides himself on the professional staff, Ashe said the inmates play a key role too. During his time as sheriff, over 4,500 inmates have earned their GEDs and minimum security inmates have totaled over one million hours of community service.
"When you see success on the part of the inmates, that inspires you as well," said Ashe. "It's been a reciprocity. I think that the paradigm of wanting to impact the inmates lives, versus just warehousing them, in a listless, lifeless stagnation, has been very inspiring."
With three years left in office, Ashe said he is not going to sail off into the sunset. He believes he has an obligation to the residents of Hampden County.
"I'm not going to coast," said Ashe. "I've always felt so honored to be sheriff. The people of Hampden County entrusted that in me. I've always felt a special bond in that faith and trust."
Between now and the end of his term, Ashe said he is willing to have an open dialogue with anyone looking to run for the office.
He said he wants to see what he feels is the right candidate get the job.
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