Race for sheriff getting heated with Wall, 2 challengers



Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall


David Smith Jr.


Garrett Wiggins

— The two Republicans challenging Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall in November’s election said teamwork and cooperation are going to be key points in their platform, while Wall points to several successes during his four-year tenure despite a sometimes contentious relationship with the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

Wall, a Dem­ocrat, confirmed he is running for re-election in 2010 and said he intends to continue his efforts to reduce turnover at the office.

“My office has accomplished the changes that I campaigned on,” he said. “I want to do at least one more term to continue on with those changes and to ensure the protection of the very competent people we hired.”

David Smith Jr. and Garrett Wiggins, in separate interviews, said they hope to create good relationships with other county agencies and the Routt County Board of Commissioners if elected. They said that was lacking in Wall’s administration.

Wall had several confrontations with the commissioners regarding furloughs and projected budget overruns. Wall said he never went over budget and expects to be hundreds of thousands of dollars under budget for 2009.

Republicans Smith and Wig­gins are the only other candidates who have announced that they will run against Wall.

“I really feel that it’s important that Routt County have someone who’s competent, who has integrity, who is able to run the sheriff’s department in a businesslike manner,” Smith said. He said life, like business, is based on relationships and compromise.

Smith, who got his degree in criminal justice, has not worked in law enforcement but said he did work for four years as a private defense contractor, traveling the world and writing threat assessment reports. He also has worked in business for many years and manages a real estate portfolio in Steamboat Springs.

Wiggins said he, too, thought the Sheriff’s Office should work with other agencies to create the best results for the county.

“I guess another reason (I’m running) is I think the sheriff should be one who puts his or her egos aside and works with other government agencies in unison … to achieve the goals established by our community,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins, the All Crimes En­force­ment Team drug task force commander, said he regularly works with other agencies in Routt County.

“In working with ACET … you have to cooperate with other agencies,” Wiggins said. “You have to network, and that’s what I’ve done for the past four years.”

Wall said that although there are several things he wants to continue from his first term, he also is open to change.

“I encourage all my employees, in particular new employees, to look at the organization through a fresh pair of eyes and to not feel uncomfortable coming and saying, ‘Why do we do it this way?’” Wall said. “I think, and I tell every new employee this, is that I think we should be able to rationally tell people why we do it a certain way, and if we can’t, then we need to change it.”

If the local caucuses put them on the ballot, Wiggins and Smith will face off in a primary before facing Wall. So far, no other Democrat has announced candidacy for the sheriff’s position.


tcb 7 years, 2 months ago

The Sheriff should absolutely be able to work well with other agencies and departments within the county, particularly the County Commisioners. Wall has not done so. He says that he has accomplished many things, but refuses to say what those things are. I would like to hear what they are so I can make an informed decision.

While Smith's idea to run the Sheriff's Office like a business has SOME merit, it's way out of line in the grand scheme of things. Furthermore, I will not support a candidate for Sheriff who has no law enforcement experience. Routt County is not some foreign country employing defense contractors. It would be ludicrous to hire an individual without some experience, particularly without having any supervisory experience.

Wiggins has the experience, training, and integrity to do the job the right way. Say what you want about ACET, but Wiggins is the one who brought the shenanigans of Johnson and Brabo to the attention of those who needed to know. Sounds like integrity to me.

If Wall is "open to change", then maybe he oughta step aside and let a real cop run the Sheriff's Office.


jk 7 years, 2 months ago

Wiggins is the supervisor that allowed the internal corruption to take place, and then blew the whistle just before it meant his own a$$. Integrity? Give me a break!!


Scott Wedel 7 years, 2 months ago

None of these candidates are without flaws.

Not only does Birch comes from ACET which has had issues, it is also an open question whether he will accept mmj or will we have a bunch of stupid drug arrests if he becomes sheriff?

Personally, I wish Wall had not run for reelection and that under sheriff Bustos had run. Wall has the right law enforcement approach, but the rest of the stuff is an awful lot.

And recall for all of the awful predictions of doom and disaster if Wall was elected, the sheriff's dept today is as professional as ever.


sledneck 7 years, 2 months ago

A drunk driving sheriff! You can't make this s**t up. How the man can look people in the eye, much less want another term is beyond me. The "two sets of rules" attitude is the last thing this county, state or country needs more of. Get the hell out man!

And not one mention of the DUI "accomplishment" by the pilot in this story. Yeah, this newspaper deserves another award.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 2 months ago

Sled, Well Wiggins management of ACET had real problems. The cash given to officers was not only minimally supervised, but appears to have ignored well established law enforcement practices.

How any of these guys feel worthy of being sheriff is baffling.


tcb 7 years, 2 months ago

Scott, how do you measure this "professional as ever" comment? If you mean that they drive around doing NOTHING, then you darn right this is a professional Sheriff's Office. It's turned into the Oak Creek Police Department.....do nothing and don't step on any "important" toes.

As far as Wiggins is concerned, he was found free of criminal acts or wrongdoing. The CBI agent said that giving "buy money" to officers, although common practice, is not the best manner in which to do it. Giving him a hard time for that would be like saying Wall is at fault for giving his Deputies patrol cars to drive under minimal supervision. Is it Wall's fault that Deputy Doofus t-boned another Deputy in Oak Creek in the middle of the night? No.

Bustos? What has Bustos done to merit being Sheriff? He's cut from the same cloth as Wall. And remember, Bustos was involved in an auto accident in Utah while using a county vehicle to do personal business. I STILL want to hear this list of accomplishments that Wall talks about. What are these accomplishments? Big cases are not necessarily and all-out indication of success or great accomplishments, but they sure do give insight......but there aren't any, are there?


mmjPatient22 7 years, 2 months ago

Now, I'm not very political or anything but I think Mr. David Smith Jr. is the obvious choice. This is based mostly on his resemblance of, and probable kinship with, a Mr. John Ratzenberger(aka Cliff Clavin, the mailman from 'Cheers'. I mean, who wouldn't want that guy as their sheriff?).

C'mon, it's Monday! Lighten up a little bit.


thalgard 7 years, 2 months ago

Great, we have a Storm trooper, a Mercenary, and an affable drunk guy running for Sheriff.I personally wouldn't vote for anyone who has affiliations with Gramnet, Acet, or who has worked as a "private contractor", so that pretty much leaves the affable drunk barney fife type. Chief Wiggums should stick with his Sturm Troop, maybe they will actually do something about the meth out there in Craig America, instead of just sleeping with the defendants and spending the taxpayers money on drugs and drink!


Scott Wedel 7 years, 2 months ago

tcb, I just read the cbi review of acet. I could not find any comment suggesting that the $500 cash on hand buy money was common practice. I would not characterize the comment in the report as saying "it is not the best manner in which to do it". I would call the actual comment rather scathing. And that was written by an experienced fellow law enforcement officer, not the ACLU.

Here it is copy and pasted from the actual report.

COMMENT: Narcotics Investigations standards and my personal experience demonstrate that it is not good policy to issue $500 for each agent to have buy- money as needed because an investigative opportunity may occur without having the time to plan for it. ! It is too easy to lose, misplace or misuse the money ! There should never be “spontaneous” drug deals that demand instant cash to make the deal happen right away. o An informant or a drug dealer should never dictate the terms or conditions of a drug transaction. This should always be dictated and controlled by the narcotics agent o A spontaneous drug deal connotes no planning or operational considerations. There is no such thing as “Just another Deal”. ! EVERY DRUG DEAL SHOULD BE CONSIDERED DANGEROUS AND OFFICER SAFETY SHOULD ALWAYS OVERIDE A QUICK BUY OR DEAL. ! This risk is limited when the agent and not the informant or suspect controls the deal If for no other reason, following precise money handling procedures will slow a deal down. This protects the agent and everyone else involved in the transaction.


Whitney Isabel 7 years, 2 months ago

Scott Wedel, Isn't Birch the Police Chief in Hayden? Is he running for RC sheriff? I'm confused.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 2 months ago

Birch and Wiggins ran against each other in the Republican primary for the privilege of facing Wall in the general election.

Birch was part of GRAMNET, the predecessor to ACET, ran for Sheriff against Wall and become Hayden's Police Chief shortly after losing.

Wiggins was part of GRAMNET and became head of ACET after Grand and Routt County (after Wall was elected) withdrew from GRAMNET.

Regarding RSCO professionalism under Wall, as outsiders we can look for signs of problems such as officers being arrested, scandals from poor supervision or serious problems retaining skilled personnel. While several did leave upon Wall taking office, the numbers leaving since then have apparently not been exceptional. It would appear that the far smaller ACET has had more problems recently than RSCO.


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