Vallario leads Sheriff Tom Dalessandri |

Vallario leads Sheriff Tom Dalessandri

Earlier in the evening, while waiting with fellow Republicans at the Buffalo Valley Restaurant, Vallario talked about the long, and sometimes rocky, campaign.

“I’m feeling confident,” he said. “During the last few days I’ve crisscrossed the county in coffee shops and grocery stores and I’ve been hearing a lot of good feedback.”

Win or lose, Vallario said he’s glad he was able to bring some issues to the public’s attention.

“If I don’t win, I’m not going to be disappointed in myself, I’d be disappointed in all the people who worked hard on my campaign and who donated money,” he said.

Meanwhile, at the Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub, Garfield County Sheriff Tom Dalessandri reacted to the first returns, which showed he was trailing by almost 10 percent.

“We need to see some more numbers before we get concerned,” he said.

The campaign trail, Dalessandri said, was mostly uneventful.

“This is such a strange campaign year all the way around,” he said. “Our response from the community has been very positive so far. … I’ve felt good about it all the way.”

He said the negative ads run by Vallario were frustrating.

“The part that was most disparaging was the embellishments and lack of facts,” he said. “That’s a way to run a campaign, but it’s not an ethical way to run a campaign.”

Vallario defended his ads and his campaign positions as a necessary tactic for a challenger to use.

“As the challenger, I have to find deficits and weaknesses. I have to walk a fine line without attacking,” he said.

Dalessandri countered: “If that’s what works, I don’t want to be a part of it.”

But Vallario said the campaign was also tough for him and his family.

“The low point was reading letters to the editor where there were some bad things said about me by people who don’t even know me,” he said. “It was interesting, it was different. There were highs and lows. It was fun, but also challenging.”

Calling himself “a cop’s cop,” Vallario, 42, is the Glenwood Springs police lieutenant and deputy chief of police. Vallario’s campaign platform included a promise of better response time and follow-up by deputies, new management techniques, better traffic and drunken driving enforcement on county roads and an improvement in the sheriff’s office’s relationship with other communities.

Dalessandri, 48, said his re-election would assure Garfield County citizens that the progress he’s made in the past eight years will continue and the election of Vallario would be a step backwards for the sheriff’s department.

Getting the $13 million county jail built tops Dalessandri’s list of accomplishments, but he’s also worked hard on homeland security issues, and he says he’s brought the department a long way in the past eight years. The department also recently installed telephones in every one of its vehicles.

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