Vail Daily letter: Van Beek for sheriff |

Vail Daily letter: Van Beek for sheriff

Leisa Valentine
Vail, CO, Colorado

I am honored to have an opportunity to stand up for a friend, James Van Beek, a man who would like to be, and should be, the next sheriff of Eagle County. I met James during the course of an investigation he was working on in Eagle County, while I was living there (a 20-year resident).

After 9/11, I moved away, and James was already working in the Balkans, helping build a police force in Kosovo. After about three and a half years there, he accepted an invitation to go Afghanistan and help establish a democratic police force.

All this time, he’s been working overseas, so that his wife Carrie, operations manager for Can Do Multiple Sclerosis )formerly known as the Heuga Center) and two young sons — and your wife and your sons and your daughters — would be safe at home in Eagle County and in the world at large. He did it because that’s where he comes from. It’s what his family does: the right thing.

James impressed me the first time I met him, and since then, my respect for him has only grown. Over the years, I’ve been a fortunate recipient of photos he’s shared of the violence and conflict in Afghanistan. It’s a tad more dangerous than Eagle County, if you don’t count a December with no snow. He’s the very first person I would turn to in a crisis.

I’m the first to admit that I find myself judging other people a dozen times a day: by the clothes they wear, by the company they keep, and not what they say, but by what they do (and OK, shoes). I put a very high value on character and integrity.

I’ve seen James respond to a variety of situations (always with knowledge and class), and heard his modest opinions on many subjects. I’ve found him to be open-minded, level-headed, down-to-earth, and very often funny. His seeming lack of ego is a rare find. I believe James to be honest and incorruptible, and a wholly decent human being. He doesn’t just wish for a better world, he walks the walk. He takes positive steps toward the goal. He and his family have sacrificed for that goal. Every day. Imagine.

James always leaves things better and safer where he has been. His next stop should be as sheriff of Eagle County.

Leisa Valentine

Southaven, Mass.

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