Murphy Painter, the former longtime state Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner, has qualified to run for sheriff in Ascension Parish.

Painter said Thursday he wants to give voters a “bona fide” choice in the sheriff’s election and said he does not want people to live in fear of their government.

“I think it’s important for people to have a choice in the office, and I am also running because I think that things have turned around and good, honest people are in fear of doing the right thing because of political situations,” he said.

Painter served as chief criminal deputy under former Ascension Parish Sheriff Harold Tridico until Painter was demoted in 1987 and not re-commissioned when Tridico was sworn in for his fourth term in July 1988.

Painter will face incumbent Sheriff Jeff Wiley and Louis Boudreaux in the Oct. 22 election, according to the Secretary of State’s website. Wiley, who is seeking his fifth term, was unopposed in the 2007 and 2003 elections.

Painter resigned as ATC commissioner in August 2010 amid allegations that he abused his powers by illegally using state databases.

An inspector general’s report released in February alleged Painter used his ATC post to illegally obtain information on judges, the governor’s staff, U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s wife and others more than 1,000 times over five years.

In Painter’s suit, he claims he was fired because he refused to grant a liquor license for an entertainment square outside the Louisiana Superdome.

Painter, who wants to be reinstated, is suing the Governor’s Office and ATC for wrongful termination.

Painter also was sued in August 2010 by his former administrative assistant, Kelli Suire, who accused him of sexually harassing and stalking her.

Painter has denied the allegations.

Suire alleged in the suit that Painter used the National Crime Information Center database to search for personal information on her and her attorney, Jill Craft.

Painter’s former employer, the state Department of Revenue, settled that suit and several other claims last month, attorneys for Suire and the department have said. The department oversees ATC.