Martinez, 58, has worked for the department for 36 years and in February was named the department’s undersheriff. She is the first woman to hold that post.
“Public safety is my highest priority,” she told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday. “As Sheriff, San Diego County residents can trust that I will put the safety of our communities first. I will ensure fair policing for all.”
It will be her first campaign for elected office. She will face former sheriff’s commander Dave Myers, who ran unsuccessfully against Gore in 2018.
“I welcome Kelly Martinez into the campaign for sheriff. San Diego County voters face an important choice next year in choosing a new leader for our county’s largest law enforcement organization,” said Myers, who added that “it’s time to clean house in sheriff’s department.”
The department is one of the 10 largest in the U.S. with 4,600 employees.