Zuker explains withdrawal | AspenTimes.com

Zuker explains withdrawal

Dear Editor:

This is an open letter to the community.

Though I deeply regret disappointing all those who support me, and particularly those who encouraged me to run for sheriff, I have decided to exit the race.

I entered the race to offer a real alternative to the status quo while maintaining the sheriff’s department’s philosophy of respecting human dignity – a value I share with the department. I had thought that 10-plus years of public service to this community would at least allow for a fair hearing, and engender a discussion that I believe is needed regarding public safety.

We have three times the suicide rate of the rest of the country, and too many of our children struggle with substance abuse. The sheriff’s department should be innovative and work proactively with educators and other local organizations to prevent children from getting involved with drugs (including alcohol and prescription medications) and to prevent adults from abusing them.

We need to develop better strategies and fresh ideas for helping people with civil disputes, mental health-related issues and drug problems. We need to create a culture of concern and cooperation in order to make Pitkin County as safe as possible. Even if it is not a strict jurisdictional responsibility, the sheriff, as an elected official, has the responsibility to take a leadership role in engaging all the relevant organizations and facilitating the best possible outcomes for the community.

I realize now, in part because of my own error, I can no longer champion this effort. The amount of vitriol and false accusations directed at me, and especially at my family, will continue to distract from a meaningful discussion of the issues facing the community.

I had hoped for a friendly competition, but I now recognize that this is but a small taste of what I can expect my family to be put through if I were to move forward. I will not continue to put my family in this position.

I wish to express my deep gratitude to all my friends and supporters who worked so hard on my behalf, and all the wonderful, fair-minded members of our community who stood up for me and my family, despite our errors and imperfections.

I am grateful for the new friends I made and the strengthening of old friendships during this process.

I will return to helping where I can as a private citizen.

Hugh Zuker

Pitkin County

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