Vallario wins Garfield County sheriff’s primary in close vote |

Vallario wins Garfield County sheriff’s primary in close vote

Lou Vallario

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario won a narrow victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary over challenger Doug Winters, and now takes his bid for a third term as sheriff to the November general election.

“It was a little closer in terms of the numbers than we would have liked, but a majority of the Republican voters decided there wasn’t a need for a change,” Vallario said shortly after the unofficial final results were announced.

“Now we move forward to the next step, and continue the message about providing the kinds of services that county residents have expected from us,” he said.

Vallario won the primary with 2,308 votes, or roughly 51 percent, to Winters’ 2,230 votes, or 49 percent.

Next up is a Nov. 2 general election showdown against former Garfield County sheriff, Democrat Tom Dalessandri, whom Vallario defeated in the 2002 election after Dalessandri had served two terms as sheriff.

Winters said his strong showing in the primary should send a message to Vallario that the “people are serious” about the issues he 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.

“Especially given the amount of money he spent compared to what I spent, I’m happy with the way we got our message out,” Winters said. “I firmly believe we sent a strong message that speaks volumes to the sheriff.”

Winters said he’s not yet willing to endorse Vallario for re-election.

“I’m going to remain open, and see how things play out,” he said. “I still feel strongly about the issues the people have raised.”

However, Vallario said he hopes Republican voters can unite.

“Republican voters have made a choice, and I feel strongly that no issues are so dividing that we can’t come together,” he said.

“I also want to thank Doug. He did a good job and ran a good campaign, and I wish him luck in the future,” Vallario said.

Dalessandri also commended Winters for putting before voters the same issues that he intends to present into the general election campaign.

“Coming from a virtual unknown in the political arena and running the campaign the way he did, I think it speaks volumes about how people really feel,” Dalessandri said.

“I will take the same message Doug started and carry it forward, which is about spending and about management of the sheriff’s office,” he said. “It’s a message about being conservative in terms of spending the people’s tax dollars, which appeals to everybody, especially right now during these difficult times.”

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