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Goldman Won’t Seek Another Term As County Sheriff 30-Year Law Enforcement Vet Cites Family Needs, Demands Of Campaigning As Reason For Leaving

Come Jan. 1, 1999, there will be a new sheriff in town.

John Goldman announced Thursday he will not seek re-election as Spokane County’s top law enforcement officer, stepping down after one term.

Goldman has spent his entire career - nearly 30 years - with the Sheriff’s Department. He said Thursday it’s time for him to put his family first.

“For many years my family members have put their own interests aside,” he said. “The demands of a long political campaign and a second term in office would require even more sacrifice on their parts. The choice was obvious.”

The 50-year-old sheriff is married and has two school-age children living at home. He also has a grown son from a previous marriage.

There has been speculation since summer that Goldman wouldn’t run again.

He has clashed with county commissioners over budget matters since he beat Republican candidate Mark Sterk by 4,000 votes in the 1994 election. He is still required to give commissioners a quarterly budget update.

Last year, commissioners voted to cut the sheriff’s annual salary from $90,000 to $70,000 when his term expired.

Goldman has made no secret of the fact that he finds the political realities of the job distasteful.

“In local government, sound public policy has been replaced by the five-second sound bite,” he said in a statement released Thursday. “Some things should not be compromised.”

During his first three years in office, Goldman mainly worked behind the scenes to implement his policies. They have included opening 11 substations, overhauling the emergency management program and working to get the department accredited.

During his remaining 15 months, Goldman said he wants to create a citizens advisory panel to work with the department, add more minorities to the force and update equipment and technology, among other things.

Goldman, who recently earned his master’s degree in criminal justice, said he may pursue a career as a college instructor after he leaves office.

So far, two people have expressed interest in replacing Goldman. Sterk, a Spokane police sergeant and state representative, formally launched his candidacy in July.

Sheriff’s Lt. James Finke is expected to announce his candidacy Monday. Finke, a Democrat, is a 23-year veteran of the department currently assigned to the graveyard shift.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo