Schroetlin’s victory in Grand County sheriff race a landslide |

Schroetlin’s victory in Grand County sheriff race a landslide

Brett Schroetlin gets sprayed with champagne by Scott Smit at a gathering of his supporters at The Ditch on Tuesday evening, Nov. 4, in Winter Park.
Byron Hetzler/ | Sky-Hi News

McClelland replacement sought

Grand County Judge Ben McClelland will be leaving office after Grand County voters ousted him 3,222-2,841 during Tuesday’s election. This past summer, the Fourteenth Judicial District Performance Commission recommended that the judge not be retained, and county voters followed their advice in spite of the fact that about two-thirds of judges recommended for non-retention are retained anyway.

A committee calling itself Grand County Deserves Better mounted a campaign against McClelland with billboards and ads calling for him to be voted out.

McClelland told the Sky-Hi News in August that he was not permitted under the canon of professional ethics to campaign for himself

The Fourteenth Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet Dec. 19 at the Grand County Judicial Center to interview and select nominees for appointment by the governor to replace McClelland, according to the Colorado Judicial Department.

The vacancy will occur on Jan. 13, 2015.

To call this year’s sheriff’s election “heated” would be an understatement.

With both contenders running campaigns with almost existential urgency, the public discourse surrounding the race was rife with invective, personal attacks and at least one less-than-civil exchange of words between the candidates.

But, as the results began to roll in on Tuesday night, Nov. 4, what at first appeared to be a close race had become a landslide victory for sheriff-elect Brett Schroetlin.

Schroetlin received 4,679 votes, or nearly 80 percent of the votes cast, compared to Undersheriff John Stein’s 1,278.

Stein ran as a write-in candidate after Schroetlin defeated incumbent Sheriff Rod Johnson in the Republican primary.

Initial reports released just after 7 p.m. on Election Day showed Schroetlin had garnered almost 70 percent of the 4,349 ballots cast thus far. As a write-in candidate, Stein’s votes had yet to be tabulated, though he could not have won more than 1,323 votes.

As the night went on, Schroetlin continued to extend his lead over Stein.

The end of the race came as a relief to many in Grand County, and many a voter openly expressed their exhaustion via social media and other public forums.

Some voters seemed to take out their frustration on the ballot’s write-in section, which made for an interesting night for the election judges tasked with verifying the write-in votes.

Both Bruce Banner and Hong Kong Fuey received at least one write-in vote for sheriff in Grand County.

Paul Kitterman, the Kremmling man who made national headlines when he disappeared from a Broncos game in October, also received a vote. Kitterman was later found in Pueblo.

Current Sheriff Rod Johnson also received more than a handful of write-in votes.

Turnout, Republican vote strong in Grand

Turnout for this election was high in Grand County, with 6,924 ballots cast, nearly 60 percent of the registered electorate in Grand County.

This was the first partisan election in which Grand County used all-mail ballots.

That makes it tough to compare the turnout to past midterm elections, said Sara Rosene, Grand County Clerk & Recorder.

“It’s difficult to make that comparison, but overall I think the turnout was very good,” Rosene said.

Republicans made major gains across the United States on Nov. 4, and the wave was not lost on Grand County.

Grand County favored U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner over incumbent Senator Mark Udall. The Republican from Yuma won 53 percent of the vote in Grand County.

Republican challenger George Leing also won Grand County with 58 percent of the vote, though he ultimately lost to incumbent District 2 Rep. Jared Polis.

Grand also went to Republican gubernatorial challenger Bob Beauprez, who conceded to Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday, Nov. 5, in a race that came down to the wire.

Michael Hocevar, Republican challenger for State House District 13, held Grand County with almost 60 percent of the vote, though incumbent KC Becker ultimately won the race.

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

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