ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — The sheriff of St. Lucie County, who has served in the role for more than two decades, announced Friday that he is suddenly retiring, effective immediately.
Sheriff Ken Mascara is leaving his post, a position that he has held since 2001.
In a letter to staff members, Mascara said he has been "dealing with some health issues this past year."
"Sadly as we get older, it's hard to admit we can't perform at a level or do things we did when we were younger," Mascara said in the letter. "I expect my deputies to perform at a certain level and I hold myself to that same standard. I've come to the sad realization that I cannot maintain that standard."
He did not disclose what type of health problems he has been battling but said he was currently seeking treatment out of state.
"With a rapidly developing scenario of medical procedures on the horizon, with heavy heart, I contacted our Governor and explained my dilemma," Mascara said.
He thanked Gov. Ron DeSantis for giving him "all the time" he needed and said the governor was "nothing but supportive."
"For 23 years, I've had the greatest honor in the world, working with the greatest hardest working men and women of this Office, serving St. Lucie County as your Sheriff," Mascara said.
Mascara had won reelection campaigns from 2004-2020.
He had previously stated that his sixth term would be his last, and that he would not be seeking reelection in 2024.
Read Mascara's full retirement letter below:
Governor Appoints New Sheriff
DeSantis announced that he has appointed Keith Pearson, a lieutenant with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, to become the next sheriff.
Pearson has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience and recipient of the U.S. Department of Justice Distinguished Service Medal and the U.S. Southern District Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.
Pearson earned his associate degree in criminal justice from Indian River State College.
Residents react to sheriff's announcement
People who live in St. Lucie County shared their thoughts Friday on the abrupt announcement that the longtime sheriff is calling it quits after 22 years as the head of the agency.
"I am sad to see him go," resident Shelley Colley said. "He was a great sheriff, disappointed that he couldn't carry on longer."
Others said Mascara's departure will be quite a change for the county given his longevity in the role.
"It's sad because it's going to be a big transition," resident Janet Rossler said.
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said in a statement that he wished Mascara a speedy recovery and looks forward to working with Pearson.