Letter to the editor: Larimer County Sheriff Supports Issue 1B

The following is a letter to the Editor. Opinions and views expressed in the following are not necessarily the views shared by North Forty News, it’s staff, or its followers. We encourage our readers to form their own opinions, using material shared by North Forty News and/or other media outlets.

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When you go through your 2017 ballot, you will be asked to decide on issue 1B. This is not a high-profile ballot issue but it is an important one, so I appreciate the opportunity to share a little background and information on the issue, so that you can make an educated choice.

In short, 1B fully restores the right of voters to elect who they wish to all executive county elected offices (clerk and recorder, sheriff, treasurer, assessor and surveyor, but not county commissioners).

Under the current term limit rules, your choice is limited. Citizens in 90% of Colorado Counties have in some form increased term limits in recent years and in 3 out of 4 counties, the voters chose to fully restore their right to elect who they most want to serve them in those offices.

It’s important to know that persons serving in those executive offices generally have decades of experience in those fields or offices and oftentimes completed extensive specialized training or earned specialized degrees before ever being elected to serve you in those offices. Under the current rules in our county, no matter how voters feel, their choice is restricted and they are prohibited from retaining the person possibly most qualified to lead those offices.

Businesses don’t arbitrarily terminate organizational leaders because they have too much experience. Voting yes on 1B just makes county government operate more like a local business and it restores the right of voters to choose the person they believe is best to lead their county offices.

Prior to being elected to serve as your sheriff in 2010, I spent two decades learning the operations of the sheriff’s office, from law enforcement, to corrections, investigations, wildland firefighting, search and rescue, budgeting, personnel, courts, etc. More importantly, I learned about Larimer County and the people who choose to call this place home.

I’m not sure you can ever feel ready to handle the kinds of challenges that we faced with the wildfires of 2012 or the disastrous floods of 2013. However, I could not have been prouder of how the sheriff’s office was able to stand up for the citizens affected and the community as a whole, both during and after these tragic events. The professionalism, dedication and heart of the staff we’ve assembled was on full display throughout those events. On a personal level, I relied on my experience of serving through the sheriff’s office since 1991 to lead those efforts.

Looking forward, we face many steep challenges that impact our county, including meeting the jail needs of a growing community, fighting the opioid epidemic that faces our community and our nation, and maintaining an advanced level of preparedness to both disrupt and respond to acts of violence. These are all challenges that I continually focus on to keep Larimer County safe.

Even with 26 years serving this community, I don’t feel ready to simply hang up my badge in a few short years. I enjoy interacting with the community and finding ways to continually improve the services that we provide. That situation is not unique to your sheriff’s office. Your county treasurer has dedicated her life to protecting the county funds and your clerk and recorder spent many years learning how to run a secure and convenient election process. It sure seems that the voters are in the best position to decide who should serve in those important roles.  If the voters approve 1B, it doesn’t create any lifelong county officers, it simply allows those currently serving you the opportunity to make their case before the voters at the ballot box in the future.1B is an initiative worth your support. Thank you for considering these viewpoints, and for the honor and opportunity to serve as your sheriff.

Justin Smith