Sheriff candidates square off
Eagle County’s two sheriff candidates squared off Thursday night for their only head-to-head debate.Joe Hoy, a Republican, is being challenged by James van Beek, who is running unaffiliated.
Hoy: Hoy has spent the past 18 years with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the past eight as sheriff.”My job is simple, but the devil is in the details. The mission is to provide the best level of service we can to the people of Eagle County with the resources we have.”Van Beek: Van Beek served with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office for 12 years and spent the past eight years overseas helping create and train international police organizations in Kosovo and the Middle East, the past 41⁄2 years in Afghanistan. When he was back in the country, he volunteered with the Sheriff’s Office.”I chose to do it to gain international experience and management experience,” Van Beek said. “About once every three to four months, I’d come home, and it provided me a new perspective. I saw that the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office was viewed as disconnected and cold, and I intend to bring my experience to the Sheriff’s Office to correct that.”
Van Beek: “I’d trim the administration staff. They’re too top heavy. I’d cut staff at the top and empower the deputies down the line.”Hoy: “A 20 percent cut takes the budget down to 2005 levels. I went to the staff to go through the budget line by line. An advisory group from the community helped us come up with $1.5 million, and we have $2 million in cuts for next year. We’re evaluating every program to ascertain its value to the community. I’m going to do everyithng I can to keep those programs in place.”
Does the Justice Center remodel make the county a safer place?Hoy: “Seven years ago we were bursting at the seams, spending $350,000 a year to farm prisoners out to other communities. The original plan was to expand the jail’s bed base, but the 5th Judicial Courts got wind of it and demanded their court facilities also be improved. As a result, the communication with the courts is more efficient. In this case the building is safer, and that makes the county safer.”Van Beek: “I understand that $350,000 is a lot of outgoing money, but for that you can house a lot of people for a long time. A few years ago there were problems with the jail population, but now it’s running at about 60 inmates the majority of the time. It’s there. I’ll inherit and I’ll utilize it. I’ll look for other revenue streams. There’s a contract with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for $10,000 a year. I intend to work with the federal marshals and neighboring counties for opportunities.”
Van Beek: “Medical marijuana has been shown with some studies that there can be some benefits. I don’t like the way the amendment and laws are written, especially when it comes to the dispensaries. But the people have voted, and I will uphold the law.”Hoy: “The medical marijuana thing is a real mess, but the voters voted it in. I am not happy with the message it sends to our community and our kids. You may remember that I was with the DARE program. I told kids that marijuana has serious consequences and they shouldn’t do it. Now they’re being told that if they have a backache, they can go get a card and that makes it OK. We know from intel that a lot of the marijuana coming into the state is not grown here – it’s coming from south of the border. It may not be coming to the county, but it is coming through the county.”
Van Beek: “The difference is not in policy but in philosophy. I have experience working with diverse communities in war zones and with police and volunteer organizations, raising money and being accountable with very, very limited funds. I’ve spent time overseas, and that experience is important. We have a world-class county that draws a world-class clientele, and the Sheriff’s Office sets the tone for that. I believe over the years the Sheriff’s Office has become reactive instead of being proactive.”Hoy: “At the end of the day it’s about how we serve the community. It’s about how safe you feel I love this job and I’m good at it. I know what we’re facing the next three or four years, and it’s not pretty. This is not the time for training on the job. James has a lot of experience but not the right experience.”