There’s going to be a new sheriff in town | SkyHiNews.com
Hank Shell
hshell@skyhidailynews.com

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There’s going to be a new sheriff in town

The results are in, the voters have spoken, and Grand County is poised to have a new sheriff this coming year.

Challenger Brett Schroetlin defeated incumbent Rod Johnson in a very close Republican primary race on Tuesday, June 24.

At the end of the evening, Schroetlin had 1,207 votes to Johnson's 1,056.

"Once again, we're extremely excited for the results, and we look forward to what's ahead for Grand County and Grand County law enforcement," said Schroetlin, after receiving news of the final result.

As it stands now, Schroetlin will not face a Democrat in the November general election. There is still the possibility that Schroetlin will face a write-in candidate, though Grand County Clerk and Recorder Sara Rosene said in an email that she did not know of anyone running against Schroetlin in the November election.

In response to rumor circulating in Grand, the outgoing Sheriff Rod Johnson would not be eligible to run again as a write-in candidate against Schroetlin due to two stopgaps built into Colorado election law, according to Grand County Clerk and Recorder Sara Rosene. The first is that Johnson would have had to have been an unaffiliated voter since January in order to petition onto the General Election ballot as an unaffiliated candidate, and the second, Colorado law does not allow for a candidate who loses in the primary election to run for the same office in the general election.

Sheriff Rod Johnson did not return multiple calls and emails requesting comment on this story.

Schroetlin, a detective with the Winter Park-Fraser Police Department, ran against Johnson on a platform of increasing employee morale and improving partnerships between the sheriff's office and other law enforcement and emergency services agencies.

He cited these goals as his focus moving forward if elected.

"I'm going to continue to focus on my campaign goals of increasing employee retention and morale, and better community partnerships," Schroetlin said.

Originally from Loveland, Colo., Schroetlin has been a state-certified peace officer since 2000.

Johnson, who has been Grand County sheriff for longer than 20 years, ran on a platform of common sense law enforcement and experience.

The Grand County Board of County Commissioners originally appointed Johnson as sheriff upon the resignation of an elected write-in candidate James Bartels. In the 1990 general election, Bartels had defeated the Republican Primary-election victor Mike Ehmann, who had ousted incumbent Huck Henderson. But Bartels did not fulfill his four-year term, leaving the seat open for the commissioners to appoint Johnson. He was sworn in on Nov. 16, 1993.

Lower than usual turnout

At the end of the evening, the county had received 2,827 votes, which election officials said was a fairly low turnout.

There were 29 outstanding absentee votes and 53 absentee votes. The county will count these votes on Thursday, July 3.

The county canvass will also be on July 3.

Johnson's term will end on the second Tuesday in January, 2015.

Schroetlin maintains steady lead

Schroetlin was ahead with 979 votes to Johnson's 859 when the county first released preliminary results around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

When results were released again at 9 p.m., Schroetlin had increased his lead with 1,112 votes, while Johnson remained behind with 975.

When the final unofficial results were released around 9:50 p.m., Schroetlin had extended his lead even further.

As it looks now, Schroetlin will run unopposed in the Nov. 4 general election.

In the state contest for governor, Tom Tancredo led Grand County with 524 votes, while voters had cast 308 votes for Mike Kopp, 333 votes for Scott Gessler and 501 votes for Bob Beauprez. Beauprez went on to win the Republican Primary in Colorado and will go on to face Governor John Hickenlooper in November.

County Commissioner District 3 candidate Kris Manguso, filling the seat of outgoing commissioner Gary Bumgarner, ran unchallenged. Incumbents County Clerk and Recorder Sara Rosene, County Treasurer Christina Whitmer, County Assessor Tom Weydert, County Surveyor Warren Ward and County Coroner Brenda Bock all ran unopposed for Grand County offices.

Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.