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St. Johns County sheriff won't seek fifth term

David Shoar is in 15th year as county's top law enforcement officer

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Sixteen years is enough.

David Shoar announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection when his fourth term as sheriff of St. Johns County ends next year

"It's time for me to exit stage left and let the next generation take it over," Shoar told News4Jax.

Shoar, 57, has worked in law enforcement since 1981 when he was hired as by the St. Augustine Police Department the same year he graduated high school. He rose through the ranks for 19 years before he was appointed chief of police. Four years later, he was elected sheriff.

For 24 of his years in law enforcement, he served with the Florida Army National Guard.

Over those years he earned bachelor's and master's degrees, graduated from the FBI Academy and receive many other certifications and honorary degrees.

Among the big cases Shoar handled in St. Johns County:

2009 – Ponte Vedra mother Quinn Gray staged her own kidnapping to extort $50,000 dollars from her husband. The story went national.

2010 – Michelle O'Connell was found dead with a gunshot wound and it was ruled a suicide. But her death has been controversial and prompted repeated inquiries. Some of her loved ones believe her boyfriend, a St. Johns County deputy, killed her.

1984 -- In a case Shoar still wants closure on, he arrested Gregory Chandler for child molestation. Chandler escaped and is now St. Johns County's longest-standing fugitive. Shoar wants to find him before he leaves office. 

"Ninety-eight percent the time we get it right; 2 percent ... we don't get it right," Shoar said. "It's what we have to deal with on a daily basis, the drama the trauma and the tragedy."

Shoar's retirement from office is not unexpected. Three candidates have already announced a run for sheriff and two of them were planning their campaigns for at least a year.

Candidates for sheriff in 2020 who have notified the St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections:

Rob Hardwick (Republican) – currently St. Augustine Beach police chief
Tom Reynolds (NPA) – Ran for St. Johns County Commission in 2018 as a Democrat, but withdrew and ran in nonpartisan St. Augustine Beach Commission, then withdrew from that, as well.
Christopher Strickland (Republican) – Resigned from SJCSO in 2016 and has planned to run for sheriff ever since.

Shoar said he plans to endorse Hardwick

Asked about his legacy, Shoar said he'd like it to be that he tried to help people, not tried to put them in jail.

"If people say that I was fair and I tried to do what I could to help my fellow human, that would be a good way to be remembered," Shoar said.

Shoar and his wife, Laura, have been together since he was 18. They live in Crescent Beach and have two adult children.  

"I landed in a beautiful, nicest place in the world, in my opinion," Shoar said. "It's been a wonderful community and I've met so many wonderful people in my career. I've been blessed." 

Sheriff Shoar said his last day as sheriff will be Jan. 3, 2021. He hopes to teach at a college, do some writing and spend time with his family.


About the Authors:

Brittany Muller

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.

Steve Patrick

Created WJXT.com in 1995 and been running The Local Station's website ever since.