Winters is ‘running mate’ in Garfield Co. race
Glenwood Springs correspondent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Garfield County sheriff candidate Tom Dalessandri announced on Wednesday that he has picked former Republican candidate Doug Winters to be undersheriff if Dalessandri wins the November election.
In announcing the choice, Dalessandri described Winters as his “running mate” in the campaign to unseat two-term incumbent Sheriff Lou Vallario, who defeated Winters in the Aug. 10 Republican party primary by the narrow margin of 2,308 for Vallario and 2,230 for Winters.
Dalessandri is a Democrat and former two-term holder of the sheriff’s job, from 1994 to 2002.
The last time Dalessandri and Vallario met in an election, Vallario took the job from Dalessandri after a hard-fought campaign. Vallario won by a margin of 7,567 to 6,067, or 56 to 44 percent.
Following the recent primary election, Winters said his strong showing in the primary should send a message to Vallario that the “people are serious” about the issues Winters raised regarding the sheriff’s department budget and management.
“It really sends a message to Lou, that people are tired of the way things have been run,” said the Rifle resident and 13-year member of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
He also declined to endorse Vallario’s bid for re-election, saying he wanted to “remain open, and see how things play out.”
Vallario declared that the primary results, while close, showed that his policies remain popular with voters.
He also said this week, in an e-mail to the Post Independent, that he was not expecting an endorsement from Winters, “especially since there were rumors (not substantiated) that they were negotiating this relationship prior to the primary election.”
The sheriff continued, “The focus of our campaign hasn’t changed at all. We’re asking all of the voters to keep the sheriff’s office intact under my leadership so that we can continue to provide the professional patrol responses, investigative services and community services that we have been.”
Dalessandri said he offered the job to Winters after the two of them got together recently to get to know one another.
“He and I spent about five hours together last week, talking about how he felt and how I felt” as to whether the two of them could work together, Dalessandri said on Wednesday.
“I was very impressed with Doug during the primary runoff in terms of his focus, composure and respectful demeanor,” Dalessandri added. “Doug and I share many of the same views and visions of how a sheriff’s office should run and serve the public.”
Asked if he had any concerns about crossing party lines to pick his second in command, Dalessandri said he does not, explaining, “I think this is pretty much a non-political office. Our highest priority will be accountability and service to the citizens of Garfield County.”
Winters, too, said the party affiliations are not important, explaining, “I’m not looking at it as Republican or Democrat. We’re putting the communities first and not political parties.”
Vallario had a similar response to the issue: “We are looking forward to getting Garfield County voters across the board to win this race.”