Outgoing Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders says after Dec. 31, when he formally resigns from his post, he will be out of politics. At least for now.
When asked Tuesday by KCUR's Steve Kraske on Up To Date whether he would consider ever running for political office again, Sanders closed the door, in a sense, but didn't bang it shut.
"Not completely, but I don't want to say that door is open any time soon," he said. "I'm not dying, I'm not moving. I'll be around. I would say: in a decade, who knows?"
His choice to walk away with three years left in his current term, he maintains, is to spend more time with his family.
He has two young sons, ages 9 and 12. And a wife, he says, who has put up for too long with county business seeping into their home life.
"I'm embarrassed, the first time I went on an anniversary trip with my wife as county executive, we went to San Francisco," he said. "Think we're going to have a great time. But I spent 13 hours on the phone with county folks back home. I'm shocked [she] didn't divorce me."
But that, he says, is the time commitment required of a job overseeing a $300 million budget and 1,500 employees.
"Even when you're home, you're not really home," he says.
He wants to be home more (both physically and mentally), after watching his father pass away this September.
"Watching him go through that process, it makes you ask: where do you want to be two, five, 10 years down the road?"
He says he gave "serious consideration" to not coming back after his father died on Sept. 2. But he said he still had goals for the county, which included completing much-needed renovations at the Eastern Jackson County courthouse in Independence and getting closer to shoring up plans for a regional transit system.
Sanders told The Kansas City Star that recent controversies over prisoner abuse at the county jail and contracts signed with a former Jefferson City staffer did not play into his decision.
In the end, he says, this felt "like the right time to do it."
Kyle Palmer is a reporter for KCUR 89.3.