Van Beek likely winner in sheriff’s race
Daric Harvey (D): 8,098
James van Beek (R): 8,158
150 ballots still left to count
EAGLE COUNTY — Republican James van Beek is the new Eagle County sheriff … probably.
Van Beek was leading Democrat Daric Harvey by 60 votes when unofficial totals were posted at 12:30 a.m.
However, Eagle County Clerk & Recorder Teak Simonton said 150 ballots remain to be counted from military personnel serving overseas, people living abroad and ballots with signature issues.
The winner will replace outgoing Sheriff Joe Hoy.
In 2010, van Beek lost to Hoy by fewer than 90 votes.
Van Beek and Harvey met in numerous debates — mostly civil — pointing out the differences in their backgrounds and management styles.
“Now is the time to bring the community back together,” van Beek said. “These campaigns can be contentious and divisive, but now it’s time for the elected officials to do what’s best for the community.”
Van Beek defeated Hoy in this spring’s tough Republican primary. Hoy had served as Eagle County’s sheriff since 2002, and threw his hat in the ring for one last four-year term.
Harvey was unopposed on the Democratic ticket. However, Harvey launched his campaign last spring about the same time as the two Republicans.
“The past few months have been a long journey of perseverance and sacrifice,” Harvey said. “Throughout the campaign, I have met many great people whose words of support and encouragement have helped me and my family along this exciting time. I would like to thank my wife and children for their understanding and support throughout this process. Today, the citizens of Eagle County chose who is going to be their next sheriff and will lead the office into the future.”
Both Harvey and van Beek promised a more accessible Sheriff’s Office that will see deputies out of their patrol vehicles and more involved with the community.
“There has been a lot of passion, and that’s good,” van Beek said. “Now it’s time to put that aside and get down to the community’s business.”
Van Beek was born and raised in Colorado, a first generation American and the son of Dutch immigrants in a family of six kids. His parents came to the U.S. in 1957. He joined the Army right after high school graduation.
He got out of the Army in 1989 and came to Eagle County, where then-sheriff A.J. Johnson hired and mentored him. He had 10 consecutive years with the Sheriff’s Office, worked the 1999 World Alpine Ski championships, then headed security on Vail Mountain.
Under a U.S. State Department contract with the U.N., he went to war torn Kosovo and Afghanistan and built civilian police forces to help keep peace when U.N. forces left.
He said he has worked in high threat environments, sitting at tables with the Taliban and al-Qaida.
“In Kosovo and Afghanistan I had command positions dealing with diverse groups, community elders and people from all walks of life,” he said. “We had to learn how different people perceive things. Even police officers from different areas of the U.S. see things differently. It taught me to appreciate other points of view and perspectives.”
After Kosovo, he spent four and a half years in Afghanistan. During his time off, he’d fly home and volunteer as a patroller with the Sheriff’s Office, he said.
“I used it as an opportunity to expand my experience, my vision and understanding. I can bring that back here and it can be used for our community,” he said.
At the top of his list of lessons is protecting and respecting peoples’ rights, no matter what walk of life they come from.
“I’ve watched what happened when rights are taken away and when there is no rule of law or accountability, no checks and no balances,” van Beek said. “Spend a little time in places like that and it will give an appreciation for how good we have it here.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.