Justice of the Peace John Ore, who's handled traffic and misdemeanor cases for the Tempe area for 16 years and served as presiding judge of Maricopa County's justices of the peace for the last four, will not seek reelection.
Candidates were required to file by last Wednesday. Ore told New Times that he made up his mind at the last minute for a variety of reasons: a commuter marriage, a good candidate waiting in the wings to replace him, and some health issues.
Ore drew criticism last year after signing off on all 11 search warrants related to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas' investigation of other county officials. Since Ore feuded with the county Board of Supervisors in the past, some lawyers questioned why Thomas and Arpaio would use him for their probe.
"I can't imagine anyone who would have a bigger ax to grind with . . . our county administration and the county Board of Supervisors than John Ore," defense lawyer Colin Campbell told the Republic earlier this year.
But Ore brushed off the criticism to New Times, saying he hadn't "taken any heat over the search warrants" and that such comments had nothing to do with his decision.
The Board of Supervisors did, however, play a role in Ore's decision. If he retired midway through a new term, Ore explained, the supervisors would get to choose his replacement.
Especially since he believes a qualified Republican has filed papers to run for the seat, Ore said he prefers to leave the decision up to voters. (The Republican, Charles Boles, will face one of the two Democrats who've filed for the position in November.)
Ore also cited his marriage as one reason to quit now. After "many, many years" of being single, he married a Peoria woman six months ago, he said. Her job as an executive for SunHealth requires her to work in the Sun City area; as a justice of the peace representing Tempe, Ore was required to live in the East Valley. "That's 45 miles from door-to-door," he notes.
But Ore says that his health issues, which he declined to elaborate on, were the final straw. Saying he enjoys sailing and motorcycling, Ore said, "I'd like to retire while I'm still well enough to do them."
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The county's justices of the peace elect one of their own to serve as presiding justice every two years. The line of succession isn't clear in this case: The associate presiding justice, John Keegan, is also not running for reelection.
Unlike other judicial positions in Arizona, justices of the peace do not have be lawyers and are elected directly by voters.
Ore is a former cop who spent more than 20 years with the Tempe Police Department.