Sheriff candidate Garrett Wiggins and several of his supporters celebrate early election returns Tuesday night at the Republican watch party at the Steamboat Smokehouse. At the time, Wiggins held a slight lead over  Democratic incumbent Gary Wall. He ultimately won the race.

Photo by John F. Russell

Sheriff candidate Garrett Wiggins and several of his supporters celebrate early election returns Tuesday night at the Republican watch party at the Steamboat Smokehouse. At the time, Wiggins held a slight lead over Democratic incumbent Gary Wall. He ultimately won the race.

Wiggins wins Routt County sheriff race

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— The most fiercely contested race in Routt County was neck and neck until early this morning, when Republican Garrett Wiggins surged ahead of incumbent Sheriff Gary Wall thanks to strong support from mail-ballot voters.

The mail votes were the last to be tallied by Routt Coun­ty Clerk and Recorder Kay Wein­land and her election staff. Wiggins clung to a 169-vote lead with more than 4,100 mail ballots still outstanding. But he received 2,477 of those votes, compared with 1,719 for Wall. The result was a 55 percent to 45 percent win for Wiggins, avenging his loss by the same margin to Wall in the 2006 race for the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.

“I’m glad to hear that; it’s a relief,” Wiggins said when reached by phone this morning. “I’m excited to see I did pull away with the mail-in vote. It goes to show you hard work does pay.”

Wall could not be reached for comment.

The final results came at about 2:30 a.m., after the candidates and their supporters had packed it in for the night. An imaging error forced the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to re-scan several batches of mail ballots.

Wiggins finished with 4,978 votes to Wall’s 4,051. The 9,029 total votes represent a 68 percent turnout from county voters.

The up-and-down returns Tuesday night — Wall led after the early voters were tallied — seemed to mirror the back-and-forth nature of the campaign between Wall and Wiggins, who is commander of the All Crimes Enforcement Team, a drug task force.

Both men have experienced their fair share of controversy in the past four years. For Wall, it was a driving while ability impaired conviction and ongoing battles with the Routt County Board of Commissioners about who had authority over his budget. For Wiggins, it was scandals involving two of the officers he oversaw as part of the All Crimes Enforcement Team.

Neither Wall nor Wiggins was shy about pointing out his opponent’s perceived weaknesses throughout the campaign. They also seemed to agree about their general approach to law enforcement.

During forums and in interviews, both candidates said they prefer the use of warnings instead of tickets for minor infractions and that they would emphasize the assistance deputies can provide versus cracking down on petty offenders.

Wall also said he increased the professionalism of the Sheriff’s Office and reduced turnover from the previous administration.

According to figures from Chris Hensen, of Routt County Human Resources, 44 people left the office from 2007 to 2010, not including Sheriff John Warner, who retired, but including his undersheriff. That’s one more than left the office during Warner’s last four years as sheriff, Hensen said.

Wiggins campaigned that he wanted to increase professionalism in the office and increase the on-site presence of deputies in the county, especially when residents are reporting major crimes.

One of the biggest differences between the campaigns came from supporters: On his website, Wiggins listed support from many of the major figures in law enforcement in the county and region, including Steamboat Springs police Chief JD Hays, 14th Judicial District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham, Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta and Hayden police Chief Ray Birch.

Wall posted support from several residents and Steamboat Springs City Council member Meg Bentley.

Wall dismissed questions about the support by saying he didn’t ask other law enforcement members for their endorsement.

Comments

tcb 3 years, 9 months ago

Now if someone will help him remember his 10 goals and teach him how to spell, he'll be on his way.

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Matt Helm 3 years, 9 months ago

I'm so happy we don't have to endure another 4 years... Thank you Routt County!!!

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JusWondering 3 years, 9 months ago

Bu-bye Wall. Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.

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SkiTownUSA 3 years, 9 months ago

"""Finally, a sigh of relief for Routt County. Congratulations Garrett. The best news I've heard in a long, long time. Thanks to the Lord and thanks to those who voted and supported the right man for the job. """

Yes, thank you lord! Praise baby jesus.

Cause the eyes of the ranger are upon you any wrong you do he's gonna see when you're in steamboat look behind you because that's where commander wiggins is gonna be

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Doug Matthews 3 years, 9 months ago

OK, It's over. Congratulations Mr. Wiggins, now get out there and do things like you said you would, maintaining the "kinder, gentler" intelligently applied law enforcement that we have come to appreciate over the past 4 years. Good luck!

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housepoor 3 years, 9 months ago

55% is good over a sheriff who has DUI while in office?

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 9 months ago

Congrats new Sheriff Wiggins.

Though, this county overall, even in this Republican wave, voted Democratic so he won;t be in office long if the Sheriff's office acts like the old GRAMNET or has the sort of management issues of ACET.

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Mary Stanton 3 years, 9 months ago

Seriously people, get over the DUI thing already, is that all you have to hold on to? Wonder how many criminals Wiggins will hire to patrol our streets?

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Jeremy Johnston 3 years, 9 months ago

Congratulations. Sheriff Wall has been an exceptional public servant. We expect that you, Mr. Wiggins, will continue to serve and protect in the Constitutional spirit that we have enjoyed over the last four years. We know you will keep your promise and let our rights as citizens dominate your policies.

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

Yeah Garrett!!! Thank you Routt County- Garrett don't forget to patrol North Routt so you know who won't complain! I think I saw a county commissioner doing a cartwheel ! We should have a" Gala Event "and invite Wall !

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aichempty 3 years, 9 months ago

I have been known to have psychic flashes of insight, and when I read the news this morning the first thought that sprung into my head was, "Now all he has to do is avoid shooting himself in the foot." I predict that only one person in Routt County will be shot by the RCSO during the next four years, and that it will be Garrett Wiggins shooting himself. That's about the only thing more ridiculous than having a sheriff lose his license for DWAI.

It's not about Gary Wall or Garrett Wiggins; it's about this crazy little place we call home. The only reason we don't have a reality TV show that's a bigger hit than Northern Exposure ever was is that NOBODY would believe the stuff that goes on around here.

In my old digs, it was always about some dude holding up a liquor store, hijacking a car, stabbing a friend of mine to death in his office one afternoon . . . you know, normal stuff like that that happens everywhere else.

Following the Brooks Kellogg case, I would not be surprised if RCSO establishes a special unit modeled after the ACET "set them up" tactic of finding traffickers by attempting to buy drugs from suspects, where undercover officers will prowl the street holding $2000 in cash and approaching strangers to solicit a "hit" on a former (imaginary) business partner.

One great thing about this is that Wiggins' lack of ability to handle details is not likely to crop up again in court. Seldom does a sheriff actually get involved in an investigation. But, hey, there's an investigator with a proven track record who will be available again when Wiggins takes office.

Welcome back, Gary. We've missed you. Where will you be setting up your PI business? Interested in chasing down some white collar crooks? No travel required ;-)

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aichempty 3 years, 9 months ago

I have been known to have psychic flashes of insight, and when I read the news this morning the first thought that sprung into my head was, "Now all he has to do is avoid shooting himself in the foot." I predict that only one person in Routt County will be shot by the RCSO during the next four years, and that it will be Garrett Wiggins shooting himself. That's about the only thing more ridiculous than having a sheriff lose his license for DWAI.

It's not about Gary Wall or Garrett Wiggins; it's about this crazy little place we call home. The only reason we don't have a reality TV show that's a bigger hit than Northern Exposure ever was is that NOBODY would believe the stuff that goes on around here.

In my old digs, it was always about some dude holding up a liquor store, hijacking a car, stabbing a friend of mine to death in his office one afternoon . . . you know, normal stuff like that that happens everywhere else.

Following the Brooks Kellogg case, I would not be surprised if RCSO establishes a special unit modeled after the ACET "set them up" tactic of finding traffickers by attempting to buy drugs from suspects, where undercover officers will prowl the street holding $2000 in cash and approaching strangers to solicit a "hit" on a former (imaginary) business partner.

One great thing about this is that Wiggins' lack of ability to handle details is not likely to crop up again in court. Seldom does a sheriff actually get involved in an investigation. But, hey, there's an investigator with a proven track record who will be available again when Wiggins takes office.

Welcome back, Gary. We've missed you. Where will you be setting up your PI business? Interested in chasing down some white collar crooks? No travel required ;-)

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aichempty 3 years, 9 months ago

sorry for the double post. blame the internet, not me

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 9 months ago

Bad, bad internet. Bad enough to have to read one Aic post, but having to read two, now three, is cruel.

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

yvb, I pity some of the current employees at the Sheriffs Office. Now they are going to have night and earily morning supervision. No more game playing! Who cares what color the shirts are! steamboatrealitycheck- your not current. The DUI was a small part of his problems!

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Mary Stanton 3 years, 9 months ago

ftp, yeah, not being the BOCC's yes man, fighting for his Deputys' pay checks, what a bad bad guy . . .

If you think Wiggins is going to be the answer to your prayers, you are the one who is not current.

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aichempty 3 years, 9 months ago

Aw, you guys. Come on.

Once the turnover is complete, I will defend Wiggins with the same enthusiasm I have defended Wall. Never once did I blame Gary Wall for having an idiot working for him as an investigator. When a man cannot understand that it is possible to use our civil court system to unlawfully extort money from citizens, the only badge he ought to be wearing is the the UPS logo.

I truly hope that Wiggins will do something about substance abuse from alcohol to cocaine, from kids to property developers. Locking people up for giving alcohol to kids should be priority one. I know he can set an example for us all to follow if he takes the time to understand the real dangers to law-abiding citizens. He can start by running radar between Willow Creek Pass and Steamboat Lake.

Hey, remember how popular Obama and his democronies were two years ago? It only proves that half the voters are stupid, with elections decided by the swing-vote gullibles. That's what made America great. Lack of foresight.

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

Steamboatrealitycheck, Thankfully, Wall is gone. Garrett will be an improvement.

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

Once Garrett replaces Wall's two 'noninvestigating investigators" the county's libility should decrease immensely. A few of the deputies should be watched as well. Maybe all these deputies need is supervision. Maybe there is no hope for them! One was actually released from the Steamboat Police dept. for misconduct and welcomed by Wall. Screamer you and Gerald Hardage offered alot of inside knowledge and research for Garrett's campaign. I feel your information cinched Garrett's victory. Therefore anyone that is really mad that Wall didn't win take it out on Screamer and Mr. Hardage, not me!! I'm going outside to attempt a cartwheel!

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 9 months ago

I hope Wiggins does not share many of his supporter's attitudes. If he thinks the dept was a mess under Wall and plans major changes then he could find himself as a one term sheriff. Wall lost because his arrest and because his pattern of not interacting well with the rest of county government.

It was not because Wall's style of law enforcement is clearly unpopular. I'd make the opposite argument that the election was close only because many people like Wall's style of law enforcement and were concerned about what Wiggin's might do.

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

screamer, Don't you hate being deleted. I wrote a comment, before the election, describing what we had witnessed when the "swat teams" raided those two homes in South Routt. I think I wrote it in reply to your comment about Wall's free "swat team" lessons ! Anyway, it got zapped! Don't you hate how "freedom of speech" only applies to some people? The Sheriffs Office really "juiced up" the charges on her to make themselves look important! What they said became fact !

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

screamer, Don't you hate being deleted. I wrote a comment, before the election, describing what we had witnessed when the "swat teams" raided those two homes in South Routt. I think I wrote it in reply to your comment about Wall's free "swat team" lessons ! Anyway, it got zapped! Don't you hate how "freedom of speech" only applies to some people? The Sheriffs Office really "juiced up" the charges on her to make themselves look important! What they said became fact !

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ftpheide 3 years, 9 months ago

I posted that twice incase one gets deleted. That's the best excuse I have!

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greenwash 3 years, 9 months ago

Picture looks like Elmer Fudd and all his friends getting ready to go shoot em up.

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Tommie Belz 3 years, 9 months ago

@Scott, I'm pretty sure Team Wall/Bustos lost because a few more people felt the URGE to get out and vote. Voter turnout was up. Gary lost because he himself broke the law, and as you yourself stated, can't get along with the rest of the county agencies. There are more reasons that could and have been noted, I'd need more fingers and toes to keep count.

I also think short timers attitude must be setting in. I see Bustos headed home at 3:01 on a Thursday... Guess he feels there isn't enough time between now and Jan. to do another monumetal something or other for the S.O.

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