July 13, 2013 Updated: July 15, 2013 at 5:45 am
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says he will not run for public office when his term expires in 2014.
His announcement ends political speculation about Maketa, whose star rose this year for his high-profile stance on gun control legislation and his handling of the Black Forest fire.
"I don't want to say that I need the break," Maketa said Thursday. "I want a break."
Instead, Maketa plans to move into the world of commerce, focusing on a family-owned business called MAK-3 Construction, based in Alaska. Maketa is part owner in the firm, which does construction for the oil and gas industry.
In 2012, the company built a "man camp," housing for oil industry employees in North Dakota.
Terry and his brother, John, each owns 24 percent of the company, according to the Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.
Their father, John, owns 52 percent of the company.
Maketa drew widespread praise for being the point man on the fire, which killed two people, destroyed 486 homes and scorched more than 14,000 acres. He has been a rising Republican star in a state where the GOP needs one to take on Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
"Although the thought crosses my mind, at this point I am not where I can give the commitment and make the sacrifice to not only campaign, but give it 100 percent to win," he said.
"And if I did win, I can't commit to four years of that level of commitment and sacrifice, and until that changes, I don't have any interest in doing it. My wife is the one who pointed out to me: 'Terry, you didn't run for sheriff to be a politician, and that's why you don't have the fire in you to be governor, mayor or senator or whatever.' That's where I am."
Maketa jointed the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in 1987 in the Detention Bureau.
He was elected sheriff in 2002 by a wide margin after working his way up the ranks in several other areas of the department. The public's approval rating for Maketa can be measured by the fact that after he was elected, county voters approved a measure allowing the sheriff to serve for three terms instead of two.
More than once during twice-daily news conferences at the fire, he was asked by local residents if he planned to run for Colorado governor.
Some residents have set up a Facebook page titled "Terry Maketa for Colorado Governor."
Says the site: "Please ask Terry to run for Governor. Colorado needs him to protect our constitutional rights."
Another Facebook page wants to draft the sheriff for the Colorado Senate.
He is not involved in either of the pages.
Although Maketa has no plans to run now, he said he doesn't rule out the possibility of a run for state office a few years down the road.
He plans to continue to live in Colorado, even though the family business is based in Alaska.
"He's instilled a lot of faith in our community through two major forest fires and the subsequent floods that have happened," El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark said.
"I think there were people who have been encouraging him to look at other offices, but he will weigh his personal feelings about public office. The door is never closed to a future in politics, I think. There's always an opportunity to come back at a later time if that is something he would like to pursue."