Vail Daily editorial: Hoy for sheriff |

Vail Daily editorial: Hoy for sheriff

Vail Daily editorial board
Vail, CO Colorado

We’re fortunate. Two great candidates are running for sheriff.

The incumbent is Republican Joe Hoy, who has only grown over his eight years in the position where he seeks to continue to serve. He has worked more than two decades in the Sheriff’s Office.

The challenger is independent James van Beek, whose experience building police forces in Kosovo and Afghanistan, in addition to a dozen years of serving in the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, makes him fully qualified to serve as sheriff. Little “on the job” training is needed for him to be effective.

Beneath the campaign rhetoric, both men are committed, community-oriented professionals who fully understand that the department’s biggest challenges by far boil down to the budget.

The economic downturn has forced tough decisions on all levels of government, and it will get tougher in the days ahead. Property tax assessments are likely to drop by 30 percent or more next year – a break for property owners on their 2012 taxes and a pretty tough break for governments and agencies that rely on that revenue.

Hoy turned to expert citizen help in his quest to cut $2 million from the Sheriff’s Office’s budget for 2011, a smart move. Assuredly, more belt-tightening is on the horizon.

The expensive renovations at the Justice Center and expansion of the jail have been campaign fodder for critics of the sheriff. But they apparently forget that the courtroom work effectively pre-empted a court order. Hoy was just looking for a few more beds at the jail, not necessarily a whole new one. In any case, these were decisions by the Eagle County Board of Commissioners, not the sheriff.

And over the long term, Eagle County will be glad it made the renovations now rather than later.

It is the nature of police work that some citizens will complain about how they were treated or that this crime or that was not investigated to their satisfaction and so on. This happened under the watch of A.J. Johnson, the sheriff before Hoy. It will happen under whoever next is sheriff.

But the level of complaints about law enforcement in Eagle County is low. Residents and visitors generally feel – and are – very safe here. Service is reasonably good. There hasn’t been on balance a whole lot to complain about.

Even the campaign rhetoric is rather muted on this account. A deputy maybe could have gotten out of his car to direct traffic or walk part of a beat, in the eyes of a citizen. There could be more volunteer programs connected to the Sheriff’s Office. Perhaps, but this is not the indicator of a dysfunctional agency but rather of all organizations that of course have room to improve.

The bottom line is the Sheriff’s Office runs relatively well, and the sheriff has an open ear and does a good job. That job has been challenging in recent years, thanks to the downturn, and it will continue for the foreseeable future.

Van Beek would be a fine sheriff, we agree. But there is no compelling need to replace the good sheriff we have today.

So we support Joe Hoy. He’s earned the chance to continue.

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