North Dakota’s longest-serving attorney general announced Friday morning he will not seek re-election for a seventh term next year.

Stenehjem, 68, said he plans to retire from the post. He first took office in 2001 and has held the job for the last 21 years. Prior to that position, Stenehjem spent 24 years as a member of the state House and Senate.

He also served as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1995 to 2000.

He says the biggest challenge he’s faced in his tenure as AG is crime, especially illegal drugs. He says he’s most proud of establishing the state’s crime lab, overseeing the sobriety ankle bracelet program and getting Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents better equipped and trained, among other accomplishments.

Stenehjem says he plans to stay involved in his community and travel with his wife, Beth, who recently retired.

“The time is right for retirement for me. The decision was especially hard because I have really enjoyed working with the professionals of this office who are dedicated public servants who come to work every day trying to make North Dakota a better place to live and work. The citizens of North Dakota elected me to this office six times and it has been an honor beyond measure,” Stenehjem said in a press conference.

Gov. Doug Burgum praised Stenehjem in a statement released after the attorney general’s announcement:

“Wayne Stenehjem is the epitome of a dedicated public servant. We are deeply grateful for his more than four decades of exemplary service to the State of North Dakota, both as a legislator and attorney general, a position he held longer than his three predecessors combined,” Burgum said. “As the state’s top law enforcement officer for more than 20 years, Wayne’s chief concern has always been the safety and well-being of North Dakota citizens, and our state is a better place because of his devoted service.”