Election Day ’22: Sheriff’s candidates in their own words: Joe DiSalvo | AspenTimes.com
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Election Day ’22: Sheriff’s candidates in their own words: Joe DiSalvo

Staff report
Joe DiSalvo
Courtesy photo

With the Nov. 8 Election Day drawing closer and ballots being mailed out this week, The Aspen Times will be running a series of questions and answers from candidates seeking local office. This week, we will be publishing answers from the two candidates in the race for Pitkin County sheriff — incumbent Joe DiSalvo and challenger Michael Buglione. Today, readers will get to know the candidates a little better, with remaining questions this week focusing on law-enforcement policy and style.

Name: Joe DiSalvo

Age:  61



Town of residence:  Aspen

Current occupation: Pitkin County sheriff




Leadership and volunteer board experience: As the elected Pitkin County Sheriff for the last 12 years. The Sheriff’s Office consists of approximately 70 paid members, broken into five divisions. The five divisions are patrol, jail, communication/dispatch, emergency management and civil. The sheriff is also statutorily responsible for search and rescue, which includes 50 Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers. During my 37-year career, my leadership experience includes the management of many large-scale incidents, including X Games, presidential visits, wildfires, pro cycling bike races, river flooding, aircraft accidents, murder investigations, sexual assaults and property crimes and more.

I have also had the privilege to serve as a board member of the County Sheriffs of Colorado from 2017-2020 and currently sit on the Pitkin County Public Safety Board and the Communications Board.

Over the last seven years, I have volunteered my time by helping organizations like the Aspen Hope Center, Huts for Vets and COVID-19 relief for local restaurant workers via the annual Sheriff’s Cup fundraiser. In the last seven years, I am proud to have helped raise awareness and over $600,000 for these amazing local organizations. I look forward to continuing this event in my next term. 

Education: High school graduate

Family: I’ve been married to my wife, Marcy, for over 20 years. My sister, Petrina, and her husband, Erik, also live in Aspen. My parents lived in Glenwood Springs until they passed away a few years ago. 

What drew you to a career in law enforcement? When I first started working for the Aspen Police Department in 1985, I was excited for the opportunity to get involved in this community. In 1988, when I changed over to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, I was drawn to the caring and respectful philosophy of the department. Now, after 37 years in law enforcement, I have a deeper desire to effect positive change in the lives of our community. It has been my pleasure to serve Pitkin County, and I know I’ve made an impression on this community, as well as its residents and visitors. It’s been a rewarding journey, and I’m proud to have made an impact, just like the leaders before me. 

As Muhammad Ali said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Name three figures, living or deceased, who have influenced your approach toward law enforcement and administration:

Sheriff Joe Pelle, Boulder County — Sheriff Pelle is perhaps one of the most compassionate and respected sheriffs in Colorado. Sheriff Pelle managed the Marshall Fire, where over 1,000 people lost their homes. Pelle never lost sight of the community’s needs in this tragic loss and took a compassionate leadership role in representing his community. Sheriff Pelle has shared his experiences during this fire, and we, as sheriffs, have all learned immensely from them.  

Sheriff Justin Smith, Larimer County — Sheriff Smith has the best leadership skills of any sheriff in Colorado. He has taught me to lead with transparency and honesty. We both believe we should freely share information with my staff and community. Sheriff Smith shares the value that people will perform best if you explain the “why’s” behind the request. We often share ideas and leadership styles. Clear communication is his most basic leadership tenant.  

Sheriff Bob Braudis, Pitkin County — It’s no secret Sheriff Braudis influenced me dramatically, both personally and professionally. I worked with Sheriff Braudis for 24 years. During his last 10 years in office, I worked shoulder to shoulder as his undersheriff. Sheriff Braudis was my direct link to the past, as well as past leaders. He mentored me to the enlightened brand of policing we all enjoy today. Sheriff Braudis also believed we should always be progressing and moving forward with new ideas and not get stuck too far in the past. I was fortunate to have a front-row seat to listen to some of the most intelligent and progressive conversations about policing with his well-known contemporaries. I learned so much from these informal conversations. These brilliant contemporaries often offered an alternative and unique view of community and national issues. Bob would routinely repeat this phrase ”all politics are local.” These conversations helped form who I am today in so many ways. In the 12 years after his retirement, Bob and I remained very close and saw each other often. Sheriff Braudis often told me that he appreciated the work I’ve done since his retirement and he was proud. Those words were said with pride and were humbling. I’m eternally grateful for the wealth of knowledge he passed on to me. I’m committed to continuing this enlightened brand of policing in his honor.  

When did you make your last arrest? Technically, last night (mid-September, when this questionnaire was answered). When my deputies act, they act as my proxy representing my philosophy and acting as I would if I were there. Unlike a police officer who is working on behalf of a city government, a deputy is an extension of the sheriff they serve.

How do you relax? I love yoga, biking and golf. I get the most relaxation from spending time with small groups of close friends. 

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