Monroeville Police Chief Mike Ruggles believes he is qualified to be the next Huron County sheriff.
But the former Norwalk police chief isn't saying for sure he's making the election a three-person race yet.
"I haven't actually decided to run," said Ruggles, 60, who has many factors to consider.
"I like Dane (Howard) and Jamey (Bracken) very much. I have high respect for them. I know they want this job very much," he continued.
Huron County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Dane Howard has filed petitions to run as a Democrat. Capt. James "Jamey" Bracken is running as a Republican. About mid-summer 2007, Sheriff Richard Sutherland, a Republican, publicly said he was retiring after 38 years in law enforcement.
"I wouldn't consider myself running against them, but running on my qualifications. That would be my biggest reason for running as an independent," Ruggles said, "because I'm not a politician at all. I'm an administrator."
He doesn't want any of the "big party money."
"I think in law enforcement, you shouldn't owe anyone," he said.
Ruggles became the Monroeville police chief in late October 2005. He was the interim chief starting June 21, 2005 after former chief Mike White resigned. Ruggles was the Norwalk police chief from 1992 through 2001. He was with the department for a total of 31 1/2 years.
"I have the proof in the pudding with Norwalk P.D., which I still think is one of the best departments in the area. I also think Monroeville is a good, small department," Ruggles said about his qualifications.
He was a volunteer/reserve deputy in 1969 before working full-time for Norwalk the following year. During his 38-year law enforcement career, Ruggles has been a chief for 12 1/2 years and served 29 total years as a supervisor.
Late last year, Ruggles said "a lot of people" started approaching him about possibly running for sheriff. His supporters had a consistent message.
"(They) feel the sheriff's office needs a new direction from the outside," he said. "I feel like I'm qualified to do it. ... I started giving it some serious thought."
His wife already had a vacation planned since October.
"It came right in the middle of the process, so it (is) giving me some time for reflection," Ruggles said.
After getting an application from Huron County Common Pleas Court late last week, he was fingerprinted at the sheriff's office standard procedure for a sheriff's candidate. Ruggles then met with Judge Jim Conway and Court Administrator Linda Stower late Monday morning.
They accepted his paperwork and forwarded his fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation for a background check.
Ruggles' application will be forwarded to the board of elections and the county commissioners. While he is on vacation now, he said there are "several people" passing out his petitions for at least 189 signatures.
"Since it's been in the paper (Thursday), I have people who want to sign it," Ruggles said.
The deadline to file to run as an independent is 4 p.m. March 3, the day before the primary.