Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson announced he wouldn't seek re-election in a memo to staff on July 7. Nelson's term expires in January 2025 and will end a 30-year career with the department, with the last eight as the sheriff. Deschutes County Commissioners appointed Nelson as the sheriff in 2015 after Larry Blanton retired before finishing his term, and Nelson has subsequently won the seat in the 2016 and 2020 elections. His term ends on Jan. 3, 2025.
"It has been my greatest professional honor to serve as your Sheriff. I have been blessed with a wonderful family, great teammates, and supportive community members. Together, you all have ensured a strong and effective Sheriff's Office known for excellent customer service. I have decided to retire so will not be running for sheriff in the next election," Nelson wrote to staff. "I will be serving the remainder of my term, retiring on January 3, 2025."
Nelson endorsed Capt. William Bailey to succeed him. Bailey worked at the DCSO for nearly 24 years, and has served as a patrol officer, corrections officer and the public information officer for the agency. Bailey filed a statement of organization with the Secretary of State's Office in June, and released a statement on July 7 confirming his plans to run. Nelson's announcement came less than a day after The Bulletin asked the sheriff about Bailey's campaign.
"The Office of Sheriff requires a strong and experienced person. I formed a PAC to be ready in the event Sheriff Nelson decided not to run for re-election. I will be making a formal announcement of my campaign for Deschutes County Sheriff in the coming weeks," Bailey wrote.
DCSO under Nelson had its fair share of scandals, and it spent over $3.5 million to defend and settle claims against Nelson and the sheriff's office. A jury awarded Eric Kozowski $1 million after he alleged he was fired for running against Nelson in 2016. In 2021 the department paid over half a million dollars to settle a lawsuit that alleged gender discrimination. Most recently, former DCSO Capt. Deron McMaster claimed Nelson concealed evidence during an internal investigation and retaliated against McMaster after he spoke out about the investigation's process. McMaster is seeking $2.5 million from the DCSO.