Sheriff candidates spar on terrorism planning |

Sheriff candidates spar on terrorism planning

Lynn Burton

The amount of time the Garfield County Sheriff spends on planning for terrorist attacks drew different responses from the two candidates at Wednesday night’s forum.Incumbent Tom Dalessandri told the packed house at city hall that planning for attacks isn’t the sheriff department’s most important issue, but ranked it near the top of the list. “We have to be prepared,” Dalessandri said.Challenger Lou Vallario said he doesn’t disagree with terrorism preparedness in concept, but questioned the amount of time Dalessandri has spent “out of the house” working on it, and it’s important that crimes like drunk driving and assaults get investigated.”Those are the daily things the sheriff’s department needs to be involved with,” said Vallario, who is lieutenant for the Glenwood Springs Police Department.The 17th Annual Issues and Answers night attracted representatives in the Governor’s race and the U.S. Senate race, plus candidates for the Garfield County Commission, Garfield County Treasurer, Garfield County Sheriff and District 61 Colorado House of Representatives.Dalessandri and Vallario jousted back and forth on issues that ranged from staffing levels to sheriff’s deputy response.Response time has been one of Vallario’s primary complaints against Dalessandri through the campaign. Wednesday night, Dalessandri said the county covers 3,000 square miles and has more than twice the population of Glenwood Springs.”It’s a huge distance to cover,” said Dalessandri, who seeks a third term.Vallario has also questioned the department’s problems with hiring and retaining employees. His solution is to offer more training opportunities in areas such as investigation.”You must offer things that are interesting to them,” Vallario said.Dalessandri stood by his record on hiring. “We go to job fairs and police academies … but we’ve never compromised on the quality of person we hire,” he said.

In the county commissioner race, challenger Trsi Houpt listed growth as one of the most important issues facing the county. She briefly explained Colorado’s statewide Smart Growth Initiative, then said, “I’d like to bring that initiative to the county.”Stowe pointed to a recent financial report that said Garfield County sales tax collections are down 4.5 percent and said, “We have to be fiscally responsible with the budget.”Houpt said the county must diversify its economy, in part to offset it when there’s a slump in the tourism industry.Stowe countered the county is already working to diversify the economy, especially in the Rifle area with the airport expansion.One question asked about the three-member Republican “triumvirate” on the board of county commissioners. Houpt replied that local government should be nonpartisan. Stowe said the board casts a lot of 2-1 votes. “And that’s good,” Stowe said. “It shows an individuality of thoughts.”The county treasurer’s race is between Democratic incumbent Georgia Chamberlain and Republican challenger Cheryl Chandler. Chandler, a real estate broker, has said she will not hang up her license, but will cut her client list to a couple of elderly property owners if she wins the race. Chamberlain described the role the treasurer plays as public trustee who holds deeds of trust before properties are paid off, then said it might get “a little sticky” if the trustee also works in real estate.In the District 61 statehouse race the candidates are incumbent Republican Gregg Rippy, Democrat Rick Davis, and Natural Law Party member Abba Krieger.On the increasing costs of rural health care, Rippy said it will take a bipartisan effort in the legislature to address the problem, and five health-care-related bills will be introduced next session. Davis said the state must pass rules that mandate insurance companies that operate in Colorado offer polices throughout the state. Krieger said Colorado could “lead the way” in creating a single payer, universal health care system.Wednesday night’s forum was presented by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, AT&T Cable Services, KMTS radio and Valley Community Television, and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. State Farm Insurance agents provided refreshments, which included cookies, pop and bottled water. Carl Ciani was the night’s moderator. The media panel was Ron Milhorn of KMTS, John Stroud of the Valley Journal, and Heather McGregor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.Colorado Division of Wildlife Director Russell George represented incumbent Governor Bill Owens, while Lt. Governor candidate Bill Thiebaut represented Democratic challenger Rollie Heath. University of Colorado Regent Gail Schwartz spoke on behalf of Democrat Bill Strickland in the U.S. Senate race. Republican incumbent Wayne Allard was not represented.

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