Citing family and other considerations, Harford County Council President Billy Boniface announced Tuesday he won't be a candidate for re-election next year.
Boniface, who said he will serve the remainder of this term, issued a brief letter to the editor in which he explained his decision and said he hopes to have an opportunity to serve the citizens of Harford County again.
"After much reflection, I've decided not to seek re-election to the office of Council president in 2014," the letter reads. "The personal challenges my wife Barbara and I have endured over the past two years with the passing of our son Ben have made me focus on what is best for my family moving forward."
He also said in a later phone interview he plans to help State Sen. Barry Glassman in his bid for county executive next year.
"It's no secret he and I have been friends for a long, long time," Boniface said, noting Glassman helped him with his campaign for council.
Boniface said he has not ruled out staying involved with politics and government but also said having more than one job "is tough."
He plans to spend more time tending to his family's Bonita Farm.
"People have been asking me what I wanted to do and I think eight years is a long time to serve in a leadership position and I have accomplished a lot, and I still have things to get done before I leave office," he said.
"I think it's time to let someone else take the helm," he added.
Boniface will turn 50 next year, a fact that "had something to do" with his decision not to run, he said with a laugh.
"I have a lot of opportunities out there for me and I am looking at all of them, but right now I am going to concentrate on what I have got to get done on the farm and address those issues, but I am excited about the future and moving forward, and thankful for what I have been able to get done here," he said.
The Bonifaces' son, Benjamin, who was 20, was killed in a pickup truck accident on the family's Darlington farm in June 2012. Billy Boniface took off the remainder of last summer to deal with the tragedy. Two months later, their champion racehorse, 1983 Preakness winner, Deputed Testamony, died at the age of at age 32 at the family farm.
In addition, Boniface has been battling Lyme disease and has had a number of challenges managing his family's thoroughbred horse breeding farm which, like similar operations in the state, has been dealing with an economic slowdown for several years.
Boniface, a Republican, was first elected council president in 2006. On his first try for public office, he defeated the incumbent council president in the GOP primary and then won easily in the general election. He was re-elected in 2010 without opposition from candidates in either party.
Knowing there was a possibility Boniface wouldn't run again, a number of the current council members are believed to be interested the office.
"I can't begin to adequately thank the many who have supported me over the last seven years through the good times and bad. This is a good Council and I'm proud of what we have accomplished together," Boniface's letter reads. "I've learned a great deal while in office but most importantly I've learned to believe in myself and what I'm capable of achieving."
"The future holds great promise for me and I hope to have an opportunity to again serve the citizens of Harford County in some capacity," he wrote. "But for the next 14 months I am the Council President and much work is left to be done. Again, thank you for the privilege of serving and I look forward to seeing many of you over the next year."