Rivals in sheriff’s race face off | AspenTimes.com

Rivals in sheriff’s race face off

Joel Stonington

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Pitkin County candidates for sheriff Rick Magnuson and current Sheriff Bob Braudis highlighted the big issues as they squared off on GrassRoots TV on Wednesday during Squirm Night. Both candidates stayed on the tunes they’ve set during a campaign that has garnered national attention. Magnuson steadily attacked the various problems he sees in Braudis’ office, from lax drug enforcement to poor educational priorities to low DUI arrests. Braudis spent much of the night defending his 20 years of service from the issues Magnuson has brought up in the race. “Let us contemplate the end, not the means,” said Braudis, who tried to turn the debate toward philosophy but ended up discussing the means most of the time. “The end is peace.”Though drugs have become a big issue in the campaign, the question of whether they have used drugs in office stopped the candidates in their tracks.

“Yeah, in Amsterdam two years ago,” Magnuson said. “Soft drugs.”Then Braudis laughed and said, “Yeah, in Amsterdam.””Bob told me where to go,” Magnuson continued. When pressed on the issue Braudis said, “Not since I’ve been sheriff.”A recent campaign issue has been the way in which Braudis’ office handles sexual assault cases. Magnuson brought to light the Colorado Bureau of Investigation – where the sheriff’s office reports statistics – listing 11 rapes in Pitkin County in the past two years and only one arrest.The statistics have been at issue, and Braudis pointed to his own office’s statistics that show 31 reported sexual assaults since 2004 and 18 arrests or cases cleared. “I don’t see how he’s getting those numbers because they just don’t add up,” Magnuson said.

“You have to trust me and my staff that we do one of the best jobs in the country investigating violent crime,” Braudis said. The issue of drug trafficking got more focus during the debate as well. Braudis made it clear he always helps other agencies, including the DEA, when they ask. “Anything going on in Pitkin County we will pass on to the DEA,” Braudis said. “We have made the only cocaine bust in the Aspen High School.”Magnuson, however, said he would be more proactive. Though he didn’t want to put narcotics officers in the schools, he did say he wanted to be involved in undercover operations in the county. “I’d prefer that we be involved with it through the whole process,” Magnuson said. “These problems need to be dealt with locally.”When Magnuson pressed Braudis on a recent statement about having a drug budget and education budget, Braudis did not say he actually had a drug or education budget. Instead, Braudis mentioned the DARE program that ended a few years ago and said the schools didn’t want to take part anymore.

“The schools have not asked us for anything that we have denied them,” Braudis said.Also at issue were DUI arrests, which Magnuson contends have not been what they could be. One part of that is the sheriff’s office has a shift change at 2 a.m., when people are leaving the bars. Braudis responded that there are too few people on the roads between 2 and 3 a.m. to justify having more than one deputy out. Further, he said, programs like Tipsy Taxi are working to get drunken drivers off the roads. The candidates trod on some well-worn ground. The debate started off with a back-and-forth regarding Braudis’ stay earlier this year in an alcohol treatment clinic.”I told everyone I felt needed to know,” Braudis said. Magnuson then said that not telling the community was a deception. Magnuson apologized for the way in which he tracked Braudis to the clinic and then left a message asking him to call the editor of the Aspen Daily News. Magnuson’s art video that shows him masturbating, part of the reason for so much national attention on the race, also came up. “I’ve told Rick that the art of his that I’ve seen over the years I’ve liked,” said Braudis, who added that he didn’t think the video should have entered the political realm. Joel Stonington’s e-mail is jstonington@aspentimes.com