Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully announced Monday she will not seek re-election when her fifth term expires at the end of 2014.
"It's time," Scully, 61, said in a telephone interview about her decision to call it quits after what will be 20 years on the job.
"It's my fifth term, 18 years as elected DA, 34 years total between being elected DA and a deputy DA. We've been through some pretty troubled budget times, but I feel we're starting to stabilize, so it's time. I'm ready to do that next chapter."
As the district attorney of Sacramento since her first election, Scully has been credited with establishing a smooth-running operation in which she relies heavily on the highly competent and qualified top-level administrators she put in place.
Scully said she is not thinking too deeply about what she will do when she leaves office because she still has two more years on the job. She said she is fairly certain, though, that "I don't see myself starting a new career."
"I'm going to take some time," she said. "I'm going to be able to focus on family, and probably do some volunteer stuff. I'll make that decision, but two years is a long way off, so I've got a lot to do over these next couple of years. That's going to be my focus.
"As I get closer to actually saying goodbye, I will give it more serious consideration."
One candidate to replace Scully as the Sacramento DA emerged Monday when Deputy District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert confirmed that she would run for the job.
Schubert, 49, is the head of the DA's sexual assault and child abuse unit. She declined to comment beyond confirming that she plans to run to succeed Scully.
Like Scully, Schubert is a Republican. Her brother, Frank Schubert, is a prominent GOP political consultant.
Two other names also emerged as possible candidates.
Steve Grippi, 54, a registered Democrat, is the chief assistant deputy district attorney who has played a leading role over the past 10 years helping the office establish a "three-strikes" policy that mostly restricted 25-to-life terms to offenders with serious or violent third felonies. Since last February, Grippi also has been head of the office's homicide unit. He declined to comment.
At least one potentially strong outside candidate has voiced interest around the courthouse in recent years about succeeding Scully when she retires. He is Tom Johnson, 53, a Democrat and a leading Sacramento defense attorney who formerly worked for 22 years as a line prosecutor in the DA's office.
"It's an incredibly important job," Johnson said when reached by phone Monday. "The person who takes the job has a huge impact on the community. I'd like to believe I have the vision to make changes in this community. However, I haven't made that decision" to run.
Scully first won in 1994 by defeating then-incumbent Steve White, who is now a Sacramento Superior Court judge. In her most recent bid for re-election in 2010, Scully won 79 percent of the vote.
Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard, a gang prosecutor and felony supervisor in the office, said whoever replaces Scully will have "some very big shoes to fill."
"She did an outstanding job for what will be 20 years by the time she leaves," Norgaard said. "She's a great leader. It's going to be a huge loss for the community."
Norgaard said one reason he liked Scully is because she was a top boss who had actually served for years as a line prosecutor. "It would be nice to have another line prosecutor in that position," he said.
"There are a host of high-quality candidates who know the inner workings of the office who would do a great job," Norgaard said, without mentioning any by name. "I don't know if people want the headache of having to run the office. It's a lot of work. It's a hard job."
In her brief interview Monday with The Bee, Scully said she has taken time in each of her five terms to decide on her future and whether she wanted to run for re-election, "to see if it's still working for me and the office." This time, she said, she decided, "I'm just ready to move on."
"We need to prepare," she said. "We're having retirements in our office. We need to prepare those who are staying in our office for roles in pursuing the transition."
Scully said her "passion for the job" is still there. "As far as I'm concerned, it's the best job in the world. I've been blessed with the support of the people in our office and my community," she said. "It's a good time to move on to the next chapter."