Dalessandri to challenge Vallario
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Former Garfield County Sheriff Tom Dalessandri wants his old job back, and hopes the county’s electorate is “ready for a change” after nearly eight years of the administration of incumbent Sheriff Lou Vallario.
Dalessandri, a Democrat, served two terms as the Garfield County Sheriff, from 1995 to January, 2003. He lost the post to Vallario, then a 15-year veteran of the Glenwood Springs Police Department, in the election of 2002.
The two will face off in a campaign leading up to the November general election.
Since leaving office, Dalessandri said, “I never lost track about what was going on, and people have talked to me over the years about what to do in their contacts with the sheriff’s department.”
And, he said, “I’ve just had so many people call me and ask me to run, I decided to do it.”
Dalessandri maintained that Vallario had “leadership issues right from the beginning” and questioned “his management of funds … the spending. He’s gotten very top heavy” by hiring “a lot more supervisors, a lot more managers” than Dalessandri found necessary.
For example, he noted, Vallario has three people working in his community relations and media relations department.
“I always talked to the media myself,” Dalessandri remarked, and Vallario ran in 2002 on a pledge to “handle public information officer duties, which include media relations, himself,” according to a Post Independent story.
“He’s built a huge organization, at a time when the rest of us, those of us with businesses and in our home finances, are cutting our costs, cutting our budgets,” Dalessandri continued.
Among his criticisms leveled at Vallario were concerns about the department’s budget for 2010, which came to more than $18 million.
“Mine was under $10 million,” Dalessandri said, “and I had less than 100 people,” where the current department’s staff is close to 150.
Other departmental issues Dalessandri has considered questionable, he said, include the $235,000 purchase of the BearCat armored vehicle, which Dalessandri called “the war wagon,” and the department’s reliance on what Dalessandri called “gas guzzlers” – large vehicles used by deputies to patrol around the county.
He also questioned the need for “a $3 million sheriff’s annex in Rifle,” saying that when he read of the proposal, which was approved by the county commissioners, “I was beside myself. I couldn’t believe it. They have a perfectly good office up by the airport. All this just begs the question, why?”
For the past eight years, Dalessandri said, he has been running a private security firm with offices in Colorado and Louisiana, and teaching at law enforcement training academies at Colorado Mountain College and Trinidad State College at Alamosa.
He also has directed a five-year relief project for the town of Pearlington, Mississippi, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Vallario, reached by email late on Friday, reacted to the announcement by saying, “I’m confident that the people of Garfield County are happy with the tremendous progress and advancement of professionalism of the Sheriff’s Office over the past 8 years and maintain confidence in continuing with my leadership as their Sheriff … I welcome the competition.”
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