Anoka County Sheriff Bruce Andersohn told staff members this week that he won't seek a third term.

"I just realized it's time," he said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I've been doing this 34 years. I've committed my entire adult life to it. It was not an easy decision; I struggled over it mightily. But the reality is there are other things to life and I want to go experience the things that are out there."

His term ends Jan. 4, 2011. He said he wanted to give hopefuls a chance to mount a meaningful campaign.

Andersohn started as an Anoka County reserve officer in 1976. He worked as a jail deputy, a patrol officer, an investigator and chief deputy before he was appointed sheriff in 2002. He was elected to the post later that year, and was reelected in 2006.

During his three-decade career, the Sheriff's Office grew from a staff of about 70 to more than 270, Andersohn said.

Recent times of budget cutting have been the biggest challenge, he said.

Still, he oversaw the creation of the Anoka-Hennepin Drug Task Force, and the conception and recent completion of a regional forensics lab with two other counties. But he said he hopes his impact is about more than bricks and mortar.

"Legacy is how have you left people to pick up the reins when you've gone," he said. "We've done a good job preparing future leaders in the organization."

As for those other experiences, Andersohn hopes to spend more time at his cabin, do some artwork and taxidermy, hunt, fish, and spend time with his wife and family, including a new granddaughter.

"Really, it's about taking some time to see what else there is and to enjoy life a little bit," he said.

MARIA ELENA BACA