FitzSimons narrowly edged out Woodman in Summit County Sheriff race
November 8, 2016
The race for Summit County Sheriff came down to the wire last night, but Democrat Jaime FitzSimons managed to pull out a win against Republican candidate Derek Woodman, with the count at 7,867 to 7,254 and fewer than 900 ballots left to count at 9:30 last night.
When the news that nearly all the ballots had been counted came in, Woodman quieted the crowd packed in to the second floor of Fatty's Pizza in Breckenridge and gave his supporters the news: he lost the tightest race in the county by a margin of just more than 600 votes.
"We fought the good fight, and we did our best," he told those assembled after thanking them and his family for their support. "In the next 18 months, Summit County will see. It's not going to be long before there's a new Sheriff in town."
FitzSimons was running to complete former Sheriff john Minor's term, which means his mandate will expire in 18 months.
"Keep your signs!" shouted a supporter, to laughs.
It was a dramatic final leg in what has been the most hotly contested local race, pitting two former co-workers against each other in what was immediately a personal and highly charged campaign.
It began with FitzSimons being chosen by Democratic county commissioners to serve as interim Sheriff after John Minor stepped down in May. He immediately fired Woodman, a 35-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office and Minor's undersheriff, because Woodman had announced his candidacy as a Republican; FtizSimons cited a precedent that electoral opponents of the Sheriff shouldn't also serve as deputies.
Throughout the campaign, Woodman touted his long track record at the Sheriff's Office, coming on as a jail deputy at age 21 and eventually rising to undersheriff. Becoming Summit County Sheriff, he said, would've been the culmination of a long, successful career within the department, one that he will seek again in 18 months.
FitzSimons, who has been a deputy for 12 years, also touted his experience, both within the Sheriff's Office and at the Los Angeles Police Department, where he served as a patrol officer and then a detective. His exploits in a crime-ridden area of the city inspired Hollywood filmmaker David Ayer's cop drama, End of Watch.
FitzSimons was at the Backcountry Brewery in Breckenridge with the Summit County Democrats, and at 9:30 he was optimistic about his chances, although still guarded given his razor-thin lead. He could not be reached for comment immediately after Woodman's conceded the race.