Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief announced Thursday he will not seek an unprecedented fifth term and will exit politics after 40 years in public life.
With his wife, Rosie, by his side, Moncrief choked back tears as he thanked the citizens of Fort Worth for his eight years as mayor.
"Your can-do positive spirit and determination has lifted me each and every day," he said. "You make Fort Worth -- each of you, all of you collectively -- the greatest city on the planet. Public service on your behalf has been a joy. Never have I dreaded it. It's always been a joy."
Moncrief, 67, said he would not endorse any other candidate "at this time" and would work with whoever is elected.
"I will work to pave the path of success for my successor," he said. "That's how we roll in Fort Worth, thank God."
If Moncrief had run and won, he would have become the longest-serving mayor in Fort Worth history.
Moncrief comes from a wealthy oil family, but as mayor related well to people of every background. He sometimes startled citizens he met by declining a traditional handshake and instead greeting them with a unique combination of a hug and a bump of the shoulder.
In recent weeks, Moncrief seemed to relish in the Super Bowl festivities. In a meeting with volunteers, he donned sunglasses and a baseball cap and did his best impression of Hank Williams Jr.
"Are you ready for some football?" he asked the crowd.
His beloved TCU Horned Frogs also had a banner year by winning the Rose Bowl.
He cited among his accomplishments the growth of West Seventh Street, combating homelessness, keeping libraries open during "very difficult financial times" and maintaining other city services without increasing the tax rate.
Soon after Moncrief's announcement, former Councilman Jim Lane and Tarrant County Tax Assessor Betsy Price said they would run for mayor.
Former city Councilwoman Cathy Hirt has already announced she will run.
Lane, who enjoys the backing of the influential police and fire associations, said he had encouraged Moncrief to run for re-election but now plans to run himself.
"If I'm honored to have the good people of Fort Worth elect me, I know what I'm getting into," the long-term former council member said.
Moncrief was first elected Fort Worth mayor in 2003 and won his last re-election in 2009 with 70 percent of the vote.
His announcement to retire ends 40 years in public life. Moncrief was first elected to the Texas House in 1971, then served 12 years as Tarrant County judge and another 12 years in the Texas Senate.
He has presided over a huge population growth in a city that has struggled in the last few years with shrinking budgets that led to widespread layoffs and cuts in some city services, including the closing of swimming pools.
The biggest controversies during his tenure included debate over the safety of natural gas drilling and a 2009 police raid on the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar. In that case, he sought common ground with gay activists that eventually calmed their vocal protests.
Moncrief said his biggest disappointments were the deaths of city employees during "my watch" and the drownings of four tourists in the Fort Worth Water Gardens in 2004.
The mayoral election is May 14.