GILMER–Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler announced Monday he will not seek re-election to a fifth term, and that he is considering running for the 115th district judge’s seat being vacated by retiring longtime incumbent Lauren Parish.

“At the end of my current term, it will be time for someone else to serve as county judge,” said Fowler in a press release. “I know the voters of Upshur County will elect a person with conservative and fresh ideas that will continue to move the county forward.”

Fowler was initially elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006 as a Democrat, but converted to the Republican Party and was re-elected as a GOP candidate in 2010 and 2014. Having taken office effective Jan. 1, 2003, he will serve through Dec. 31, 2018.

Fowler, who has maintained a private law practice in Gilmer, wrote that with Parish’s announcement she will not run again, “an attorney from Upshur or Marion County will have some big shoes to fill” (a reference to the fact that voters in those two counties elect the 115th district judge, who must be an attorney). “I personally want to continue serving our citizens in some capacity and will seriously be considering running for judge of the 115th District Court.”

Under state law, Fowler cannot formally announce his candidacy for the district judge’s post before Dec. 3 without forfeiting his current office. However, he can say he is merely considering running for district judge without giving up his current post.

The upcoming Republican and Democratic primaries for the district judgeship, county judge’s post and certain other county offices is scheduled March 6. The general election for those posts is in November 2018.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of this great county and I am grateful for the strength and support they have given me over the last fifteen years,” Fowler wrote. “I also want to thank the many commissioners I have served with on the commissioners court and all of the elected officials and county employees I have had the opportunity to work with and will continue to work with on a daily basis.

“Upshur County has seen remarkable growth and transformation over the last fifteen years,” the judge added. “That growth and transformation is due, in large part, to our citizens, our elected officials and our dedicated county employees. It has been gratifying to be a part of it and to have served with them all.”