The two candidates on the GOP ballot in the lone primary in the Jeffco sheriff’s race see a clear choice as a result of their on-the-job experiences.
Jeff Shrader, the office’s division chief for special projects, and Jim Shires, a sergeant in the office, tout different backgrounds — and different approaches to the challenges faced by the Sheriff’s Office.
Shrader, a 30-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, said he received 58 percent of the votes at the GOP county assembly in March because delegates respected his experience and longtime service. He said that experience would enable him to address key challenges, including finding ways to better retain employees.
“People are looking for somebody who is experienced, who’s had appropriate leadership experience, and I’m the only candidate who has that. I didn’t just wake up and decide to be sheriff. My whole career has been progressing to taking on more leadership challenges,” Shrader said.
But Shires, who received 32 percent of the GOP delegate votes at the assembly, said Jeffco’s new top cop needs experience in the field, not in an office. A 28-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, Shires said his understanding of the deputies’ job makes him the best leader to keep those officers on the payroll.
“I think it comes down to understanding today’s demands on law enforcement,” Shires said. “I haven’t been in an office for more than 20 years. I’ve made the arrests; I’ve contacted people that need help — the troubled teenager, the lady who’s had her savings stolen because of identity theft.”
A third Republican candidate, John Berry, didn’t receive enough support at the assembly to get on the GOP ballot and is running in the general election as an independent. Libertarian Brett Almy also will be on the ballot in November. But no Democrat is running for the office.
Current Sheriff Ted Mink is term-limited; the Republican was appointed to the post by the county commissioners in 2003 and was elected in 2006 and 2010.
A Republican rivalry
Shrader and Shires both say their candidacies present clear and diverse choices to Jeffco voters.
Shrader said voters want the current high level of service to continue, and he said endorsements from Mink and District Attorney Pete Weir show he’s best qualified to make that happen.
“The reasons those two gentlemen endorse me is that they know what it takes to run a complex organization, because they’ve done it themselves,” Shrader said. “My opponent has only a little more than 18 months of line-level supervisor experience. I have handled the Sheriff’s Office’s $90 million budget.”
Shires, on the other hand, has been endorsed by several local businesses, including Green Mountain Guns and Littleton-based Regal Fitness. He said his opponent is the establishment candidate and not the right leader to improve the Sheriff’s Office.
Shires said turnover among deputies can be reduced by better allocating resources and not asking taxpayers for more money.
“The key part of this is ensuring the taxpayer money is spent as wisely as possible, and being able to prove that. And I can do that,” Shires said. “We need to provide the best service possible. We need (deputies) on the street, and I know how to increase that without hiring more people. We need to be reallocating to best serve the public.”
The GOP primary is scheduled for June 24. The last day to register to vote in the primary is June 16. Only voters registered as a Republican can vote in the primary.
Contact Ramsey Scott at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Checkwww.columbinecourier.com for updates.