With a total of almost 35 years experience working in law enforcement and the court system, Gary Thomas has formally announced his plans to seek the position of Anderson County Precinct 1 justice of the peace next year.

Thomas, who served as Anderson County sheriff for eight years begining in the mid-1980s, said he will run as a Democrat.

The 55-year-old Thomas began his law enforcement career with the Palestine Police Department, working for that agency for a total of 15 years.

In 1984, Thomas, who holds a master peace officer certificate, was elected Anderson County sheriff, serving in that position until the end of 1992. He later worked as an investigator for local attorney Doug Lowe for six years and then moved to the Anderson County Courthouse as a district attorney’s investigator following Lowe’s election in 1998.

For the past 13 months, Thomas has been employed as Anderson County’s emergency management coordinator.

“I think I’m well qualified,” Thomas said Monday afternoon, “and I hope the people feel that way.”

Thomas said he believed his experience working in “every aspect of the judicial system” makes him the “most qualified candidate” in the race. The lifelong Elkhart resident added he wished to give something back to his community.

“I’d like to try to give back to Precinct 1,” Thomas said. “There are a lot of good people, friends and relatives down there. I’d just like to carry on the good job that (current Anderson County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace) Linda (Bostick Ray) has been doing all these years and I feel I can do that.”

Thomas becomes the second person to publicly indicate their intentions to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for the post.

Earlier this fall, Pat Douthit-Green, an Anderson County sheriff’s deputy, said she also will run for the position currently occupied by Ray.

Ray has told the Herald-Press she will not seek re-election as the Precinct 1 justice of the peace.

Primary elections will be held March 7.

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