GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - Col. John Fortunato has retired from his position as public information officer for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Tuesday morning to run for Jefferson Parish Sheriff.
The move was initially announced as a "resignation" in an email from Interim Sheriff Joseph Lopinto.
Fortunato said he did not resign his position, but retired from the JPSO, noting the distinction.
Fortunato's announcement means he will face Lopinto in a special election.
The primary is scheduled for March 24, 2018, and a runoff, if necessary, would be held on April 28, 2018.
Fortunato confirmed his intention to run as he was cleaning out his desk and saying goodbye to long-time colleagues at the JPSO headquarters.
Fortunato says it was a tough decision to retire and run for sheriff.
"Basically I'm here to visit with family and friends that's what I'm here to do and remove nearly 46 years worth of things that I have accumulated. Is this tough? It's bittersweet," Fortunato said.
Lopinto was appointed interim sheriff August 31 after Newell Normand announced his resignation in July.
Fortunato first started working for JPSO in 1971.
In 1977 he was shot in the line of duty while working as a detective.
Since then, he has handled public information for JPSO, working with local and national media.
Normand picked then chief deputy Lopinto to serve as interim sheriff until a special election could be held.