Race for sheriff getting heated with Wall, 2 challengers | SteamboatToday.com

Race for sheriff getting heated with Wall, 2 challengers

Zach Fridell

— The two Republicans challenging Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall in November's election said teamwork and cooperation are going to be key points in their platform, while Wall points to several successes during his four-year tenure despite a sometimes contentious relationship with the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

Wall, a Dem­ocrat, confirmed he is running for re-election in 2010 and said he intends to continue his efforts to reduce turnover at the office.

"My office has accomplished the changes that I campaigned on," he said. "I want to do at least one more term to continue on with those changes and to ensure the protection of the very competent people we hired."

David Smith Jr. and Garrett Wiggins, in separate interviews, said they hope to create good relationships with other county agencies and the Routt County Board of Commissioners if elected. They said that was lacking in Wall's administration.

Wall had several confrontations with the commissioners regarding furloughs and projected budget overruns. Wall said he never went over budget and expects to be hundreds of thousands of dollars under budget for 2009.

Republicans Smith and Wig­gins are the only other candidates who have announced that they will run against Wall.

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"I really feel that it's important that Routt County have someone who's competent, who has integrity, who is able to run the sheriff's department in a businesslike manner," Smith said. He said life, like business, is based on relationships and compromise.

Smith, who got his degree in criminal justice, has not worked in law enforcement but said he did work for four years as a private defense contractor, traveling the world and writing threat assessment reports. He also has worked in business for many years and manages a real estate portfolio in Steamboat Springs.

Wiggins said he, too, thought the Sheriff's Office should work with other agencies to create the best results for the county.

"I guess another reason (I'm running) is I think the sheriff should be one who puts his or her egos aside and works with other government agencies in unison … to achieve the goals established by our community," Wiggins said.

Wiggins, the All Crimes En­force­ment Team drug task force commander, said he regularly works with other agencies in Routt County.

"In working with ACET … you have to cooperate with other agencies," Wiggins said. "You have to network, and that's what I've done for the past four years."

Wall said that although there are several things he wants to continue from his first term, he also is open to change.

"I encourage all my employees, in particular new employees, to look at the organization through a fresh pair of eyes and to not feel uncomfortable coming and saying, 'Why do we do it this way?'" Wall said. "I think, and I tell every new employee this, is that I think we should be able to rationally tell people why we do it a certain way, and if we can't, then we need to change it."

If the local caucuses put them on the ballot, Wiggins and Smith will face off in a primary before facing Wall. So far, no other Democrat has announced candidacy for the sheriff's position.