Sheriff Tracy Carter (center) at a press conference in January where he announced he would not seek a fifth term. Carter told The Rant on Monday that he had submitted his resignation from the post effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter submitted his resignation from the post on Monday, effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Carter, a Republican who first ran for sheriff in 2002 and was first elected in 2006, announced in January that he would not seek a fifth term.

“I just feel like it’s the right thing,” Carter told The Rant. “The office is in good shape, and the (2022) sheriff’s race starts in December so it felt like the right time.”

Carter began his career in law enforcement in 1987 as a patrol deputy in Lee County before being hired in the 1990s as chief of the Lee County Schools Special Police, which no longer exists. He held that post until his election as sheriff in 2006. He was re-elected without opposition in 2010, and defeated Democrats Justin Rosser and Kevin Dodson in 2014 and 2018, respectively.

Carter said he plans to take some down time after his resignation, although he expects to eventually return to part or even full time work – most likely in a field other than law enforcement.

“You never say never, but 34 years (in law enforcement) is long enough,” he said.

Carter said he expects to recommend a candidate be appointed to finish out the final year of his term, although he declined to say who that would be. Because Carter is a Republican, the official recommendation for the vacancy will come from the executive committee of the Lee County Republican Party. The Lee County Board of Commissioners is required by law to appoint the person recommended by the party.

Major Brian Estes of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, a Republican, has already announced a campaign, as has Republican Tim Smith, a former deputy with the office. On the Democratic side, retired Major Carlton Lyles has announced he will run. Filing for the office begins in December.