Candidates toss hats in ring | SteamboatToday.com

Candidates toss hats in ring

Wiggins, Smith set for GOP primary in sheriff’s race

Mike Lawrence

— August and November ballots are beginning to take shape in Routt County, where several candidates for various positions are making their intentions known.

There could be a Republican primary in this year's race for Routt County sheriff, as Routt County Rifle Club President David Smith and All Crimes Enforcement Team Commander Garrett Wiggins have filed candidacy papers. Sheriff Gary Wall, a Democrat, has not announced whether he will seek re-election. Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush is holding a noon event today on the Routt County Courthouse lawn, where the first-term Democrat will announce her campaign for re-election to the seat representing District 3, which includes most of Steamboat Springs.

On Wednesday, Routt Coun­ty Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland and Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon told the Routt County Republican Central Committee they plan to campaign for their fifth and fourth terms, respectively.

Smith, 46, is a real estate investor and property manager and said he came to Steamboat Springs in 1996.

Smith said Wednesday that he has a degree in criminal justice from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, but never used it because he "discovered that you could make a whole lot more money in sales and in business than you could in law enforcement."

Smith said he attended the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy in the summer at Colorado Mountain College's campus south of Glenwood Springs. That program enables him to work with a law enforcement agency and achieve state Peace Officer Standards and Training certification. He said his business experience would enable him to manage the Sheriff's Office within county budget constraints.

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Wiggins has commanded ACET, formerly the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team, since 2007 and is a former Steamboat police officer. He lost to Wall in the 2006 race for sheriff, after defeating Ray Birch, now Hayden's police chief, in a primary that year. Wall raised $22,599 in contributions that year, compared with Wiggins' $21,665, and won the race by about 800 votes. A total of 7,845 Routt County voters cast ballots in 2006.

Wall said Wednesday that he has no immediate plans to announce whether he will seek re-election.

"I will announce what I'm going to do when I'm ready to do that," he said. "I'm looking at the different issues, and I'm going to do that when I think the time is right."

Mitsch Bush said her event today would go on regardless of the weather.

She plans to make a few remarks and speak with people in attendance about her goals of fostering economic opportunities and the environment and preserving quality of life in the Yampa Valley.

She defeated Republican Paul Strong, a former Steam­boat Springs City Council president, by about 1,000 votes in 2006.

Strong said Wednesday that he is happy in the private sector and has no plans for a campaign this year.

Although Weinland said no one has filed to oppose Mitsch Bush, former state Sen. Jack Taylor, chairman of the county Republican Central Committee, did not rule out a contested race for the commissioner seat.

"There's nobody that's ready to announce yet, but there's some interest," Taylor said.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

If you go

What: Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush announces her campaign for re-election

When: Noon today

Where: Routt County Courthouse lawn, 522 Lincoln Ave. in downtown Steamboat Springs

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