Bruce Ludwig announced Monday he will step out of the race for Hood River County Sheriff.
Ludwig, the former Hood River chief of police, cited health issues of his wife, Patti, and son Kevin as the basis for his decision.
"In my circumstance, I need to be full-time caregiver for Patti, and I couldn't adequately focus on the campaign or serve the residents of the county," said Ludwig, who had served as police chief for six years from 2004 to May 2011. He was fired in May and had shortly thereafter announced his plans to run for sheriff.
Patti Ludwig suffered a head injury in July 2010 and while her condition has improved, it has not been at a pace Ludwig felt would allow him to run for office or serve. He said her cognition is showing gradual signs of improvement but communication is still difficult, and she has recently experienced pain in her right hip and leg, the cause of which is still unknown to her doctors.
"It's been like a bad mystery novel," he said, "trying to isolate the cause of the pain. She's been going through it for several months, and it has impacted her ability to walk."
Then, in December 2011 Ludwig's son Kevin experienced a seizure and underwent brain surgery Dec. 13. Surgeons removed most of a tumor, but Kevin's condition is in "wait and see" status, Ludwig said. Kevin, 26, returns to school at Oregon Institute of Technology this month, but is dealing with short-term memory loss. Ludwig described his outlook as "uncertain, but hopeful."
"When I first announced (the campaign) I looked at Patti's progress in the first six months of her recovery, and it was a good pace, and I felt that if she keeps up that pace, I'd be in a good position to run this spring; but she has had a number of setbacks and her progress has slowed considerably," Ludwig said.
"When I evaluated the kind of attention she needs from me as full-time caregiver, and my son's situation, I saw that this was not the time for me to run for sheriff," he said. The Ludwigs also have a daughter, Sandy, 28, a student at Boise State University, and a son, Trent, 30, who lives in Portland.
Ludwig, 58, said, "I'm disappointed I'm not running for sheriff. I still feel like I have a lot to offer. I wasn't ready to retire from law enforcement."
Ludwig was fired by City Manager Bob Francis May 13. Francis said at the time that "our management goals and objectives are incompatible," but did not elaborate.
On May 24, Ludwig's attorney, Dana Sullivan, filed a notice of complaint against the city, charging that his firing violated the City's personnel policies as well as Ludwig's constitutional rights.
The complaint is pending trial; Sullivan was unavailable for comment.
Two other candidates had announced in 2011 that they plan to run for the job now held by Joe Wampler, who plans to retire:
Police Chief Neal Holste, who was appointed to succeed Ludwig;
Matt English, detective with the Hood River County Sheriff's Department.
Ludwig said he has not decided who to support.
"I want to talk to both gentlemen and I expect I will be supporting one. But I am undecided at this point."