Candidates for Pitkin County sheriff start the stumping | AspenTimes.com

Candidates for Pitkin County sheriff start the stumping

Aaron Hedge
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Aaron Hedge/The Aspen TimesRick Leonard, candidate for Pitkin County sheriff, discusses the issues Thursday at the library.

ASPEN – Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis and sheriff’s candidate Rick Leonard appeared cozy Thursday night before Leonard took the stage in front of an intimate crowd to lob several hot darts at the current sheriff’s administration.

The two sat in adjacent chairs in a corner of a conference room in the basement of the Pitkin County Library, where Leonard made his first campaign speech since he and Pitkin County Undersheriff Joe DiSalvo moved on from the primary election in the race for sheriff.

Braudis – who went unopposed in four elections since 1986 and then beat out Aspen Police Officer Rick Magnuson in the 2006 election – asked Leonard if he found campaigning a difficult task.

Yes, Leonard replied.

“I’m not accustomed to standing up in front of people and talking about myself,” he said.

But Leonard expressed a level of confidence in his ability to beat DiSalvo, who carries an endorsement from the hugely popular Braudis.

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“The sheriff doesn’t get to anoint his successor,” Leonard said.

Both candidates held their first campaign stops this week – Leonard on Thursday and DiSalvo on Friday.

DiSalvo’s stump, hosted by the Woody Creek Community Center adjacent to the Woody Creek Tavern, drew a large crowd, but DiSalvo did not give a formal speech. Rather, he signed posters and his supporters sold campaign merchandise.

Leonard, at Thursday night’s event, levied a number of heavy accusations against the way the sheriff’s office currently operates, alleging that Braudis and DiSalvo have ignored several Pitkin County communities, including Lenado and Redstone. He also said the sheriff’s office has neglected to patrol traffic on highways 82 and 133.

The tension in the library basement was palpable when Leonard said the sheriff’s office offloads responsibility to patrol in Redstone to law enforcement agencies that he claims don’t have jurisdiction there.

Braudis got up from the table he was sitting on and said, “That’s not true. … I have to go to dinner, Rick. Sell yourself,” and walked from the room.

DiSalvo said he thinks the sheriff’s office patrols in those places sufficiently, citing an effort “in the last six months” to make sure there are officers in Redstone at least once a week. He noted a stroke of luck in August when a large mudslide near Carbondale blocked Highway 82 for several hours. Two officers were stranded on the Redstone side.

This is the first election Braudis has not run in for 24 years – in April, he announced he would retire this November – and Leonard, hoping to overcome DiSalvo’s huge volume of support among Pitkin County voters, is looking to change things.

Leonard won second in the Aug. 10 primary, trailing DiSalvo’s 2,186 votes with 341, and beating Magnuson, who received 301 votes, by 40.

DiSalvo has been with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office since 1987 and lives in Aspen; Leonard has a 20-year career as a lawman in New York and Miami, but has been out of law enforcement for four years, since he moved permanently to Aspen.

ahedge@aspentimes.com

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