Vallario wins re-election as Garfield County sheriff
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario won re-election Tuesday night, garnering 52 percent of the vote to challenger Tom Dalessandri’s 48 percent, with 27 of 28 precincts reporting as of press time.
Approximately 1,800 mail-in ballots were still being counted as of 11:30 p.m. However, Vallario had a comfortable lead from the early returns and maintained it throughout the night.
“We’re all tired. I’m tired, but I’m very pleased,” Vallario said at the Garfield County Republican Party gathering at the Glenwood Ramada Inn. “I think the voters like what they see. Tomorrow we’ll be back to business as usual.”
Vallario had been criticized by Dalessandri, the Democratic candidate in the race, for spending increases in recent years, including a $3 million-plus sheriff’s office annex in Rifle and purchase of the BearCat armored vehicle for use by the inter-agency All Hazards Response Team.
The race also highlighted a difference in management and policing styles between Dalessandri and Vallario, who barely won the Republican nomination over challenger Doug Winters. Winters had agreed to be Dalessandri’s undersheriff if he won the election.
Vallario said the issues raised in the campaign were mostly “isolated issues [pushed by] small pockets of people that obviously voted for change.”
The outcome “tells me that the Garfield County electorate likes the way the sheriff’s office is run, and they put me back in office for four more years.”
He said many of the other issues, such a controversy over background checks for county search and rescue volunteers, have been resolved during the campaign, “or I’m comfortable they’re not issues.”
“In fact, search and rescue is stronger than they ever have been,” Vallario said.
Reached on election night, Dalessandri said he takes the relatively close outcome as a “victory” in the sense that the issues that needed to be raised in the campaign were.
“The goal was to make [Vallario] work for this election, and make him answer some of the hard questions that were out there,” Dalessandri said. “One of my primary goals from the beginning was to bring these issues to forefront, and to make citizens more aware, hold him more accountable in the long run.
“Our role as citizens is to both monitor and manage government, and we can’t let government manage us,” he said.
(Post Independent reporter John Colson contributed to this report.)
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