BEULAH -- The Benzie County prosecutor's decision to pull the plug on his re-election bid came as a surprise to some officials, while others are looking forward to his departure.
Anthony Cicchelli this week sent letters to his August primary challenger and others that said he won't serve another term as prosecutor, months after the official deadline to remove his name from the ballot.
"After lengthy consideration I have decided that, even if elected, I will not serve as county prosecutor next term," Cicchelli wrote in a statement dated July 15.
Benzie County Republican Party Treasurer Jan Mick called the move a "wise decision."
"People weren't satisfied with him and (challenger John B. Daugherty) is a much better choice," she said.
Party officials hadn't received notice of Cicchelli's decision by Thursday and didn't try to influence him, said Chairman Rex O'Connor.
"I did not know that this was coming," he said.
County Commissioner Don Smeltzer believes Cicchelli is "just acknowledging reality by dropping out."
"I think the public in many ways has a lack of respect for county functions and relations and I think this will improve the appearance of county operations," Smeltzer said. "There have been occasions where he has declined to prosecute cases that should have been prosecuted. There are appearances that he was not working hard enough at the office."
Cicchelli did not return calls for comment Thursday.
The official deadline to withdraw from the August primary was May 16 at 4 p.m. Cicchelli will appear on the ballot beside Daugherty, a Beulah attorney and fellow Republican, said county Clerk Dawn Olney.
Daugherty said he received Cicchelli's statement by mail Wednesday.
"I guess I'm not really surprised, considering the situation ... as far as his history," Daugherty said. "I think it is just going to allow us to refocus to the November election."
Cicchelli, 42, served as prosecutor for more than 11 years, during which time he twice was investigated for fixing tickets for friends and family.
In 2005, an Attorney Discipline Board panel found Cicchelli committed professional misconduct for making "negligently inaccurate statements" to a magistrate and state police stemming from a 2002 ticket-fixing case.
He was ordered to serve 40 hours of community service and attend a "professional enhancement workshop."
This year Cicchelli told a Benzie magistrate to dismiss a speeding ticket that state police issued to his stepson. State police investigated Cicchelli's actions, but said criminal charges weren't warranted.
The winner of the August primary will appear on the November ballot opposite Lake Ann attorney Michael Lawrence Smith, the only Democrat seeking the position.
Smith anticipated that Daugherty "would handily win the Republican primary," he said.
"I don't think it changes any of the dynamics," he said. "I don't see this as an earth-shattering development."
Commissioner Anne Damm was "surprised" when she heard the news, although she had no specific comments on Cicchelli's past job performance.
"People seem to come and go in the county," she said. "I didn't follow him that much."
County Administrator Chuck Clarke expressed a similar sentiment.
"These are all elected officials and I have no opinion one way or the other," Clarke said. "My mind goes right to how this is going to affect the budget."
Cicchelli's current salary is $60,893, plus benefits.