2 candidates will seek votes to wear the sheriff’s badge in November | SummitDaily.com
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2 candidates will seek votes to wear the sheriff’s badge in November

Chris Scherr, left, and Jaime FitzSimons, right. Both are running for Summit County sheriff.
Courtesy photos

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons’s appointment in 2016 and the number of terms he has served.

As of Monday, July 25, Summit County will have two names on the ballot for Summit County Sheriff in November. Jaime FitzSimons, the Democratic candidate and sitting sheriff hoping to earn another term, and Dillon Police Department Patrol Officer Chris Scherr, an unaffiliated candidate who wants to address alleged staffing deficiencies in the Sheriff’s Office.

Scherr said he wants to focus on filling vacancies in patrol deputies, battle rising crime rates and provide Summit County with a politically unaffiliated sheriff.



FitzSimons said he wants to fine tune the litany of programs he’s started while continuing to establish new ones based on input from the community. He said he wants to continue serving as “Summit County’s ultimate community advocate” until his work is done.

FitzSimons will wrap up his first official term as sheriff this year. He was chosen by the Summit Board of County Commissioners in 2016 to fill the vacancy left by John Minor, who is now the Chief of Police in Silverthorne. In 2018, Derek Woodman, who was undersheriff at the time FitzSimons was appointed, challenged FitzSimons in the election. FitzSimons won, securing his first official, four-year term.



Colorado sheriffs are limited to serving no more than three four-year terms. FitzSimons served a partial term from 2016 to 2018 and will finish his first full term this year.

If Scherr fails to beat out FitzSimons, he said he would continue to work for the Dillon Police Department.

Why is Scherr running?

Dillon Patrol Officer Chris Scherr hopes to unseat Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons in the Nov. 2022 general election.
Chris Scherr/Courtesy photo

“First and foremost, I find that it’s clear that we need an administration change at Summit County Sheriff’s Office for the safety and well being of our community members,” Scherr said when asked why he was running. He said the Sheriff’s Office had become “top heavy” and in need of new management.

He’d like to see the office hire more patrol deputies to interface with the community, and for the office to become more involved in stopping crime. He also wants the Sheriff’s Office to respond as a team on the people’s behalf.

Scherr claimed the number of patrol deputies has dwindled since FitzSimons took office in 2016, while support and command staff have grown. Scherr said he’d like to see more focus return to recruitment, training and retention of patrol deputies, especially ones with fluency in Spanish.

“I’m not seeking to grow the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “I’m seeking to fill positions, so that patrol is staffed adequately.”

Scherr was asked how he would reflect Summit County’s diverse population. Speaking on Summit County’s law enforcement as a whole, Scherr said, “One thing that we don’t do a great job at is communicating with our Spanish speaking population.” Countywide, he claimed, few deputies are fluent in Spanish, and he wants to work to minimize the need for interpreters. That means making language courses more accessible to English-speaking deputies, and taking greater advantage of Latino police academies. 

Additionally, he said he wants to hire more deputies from the local community who have knowledge of the region. Such deputies would also have shared community interests, he said.

When asked how he would hire more staff while agencies and business battle a countywide staffing shortage, Scherr said throwing money at the problem via raises was not a complete solution. He said reworking the career ladder and enticing potential patrol deputies with unique opportunities could attract more talent.

Beyond filling out the lower rungs of the Sheriff’s Office, Scherr identified three key issues he would plan to address: crime, narcotics trafficking and mental health. Scherr added that he would like to fight criminal actors coming to Summit County from the Front Range.

“Groups come up out of Denver and steal cars here in Summit County because people are still leaving their doors unlocked,” he said.

He would also like to reestablish Summit County’s criminal interdiction team tasked with combating drug trafficking and other spikes in crime.

Scherr commended FitzSimons’ work addressing the county’s mental health crisis, and would like to continue that work, he said, but without sacrificing the work of patrol deputies. Scherr said the sheriff has leaned too far in one direction and has left his patrol deputies understaffed.

Scherr moved to the county in 2003, and, aside from spending 2019-20 in Whitefish, Montana, he said he has been part of the community for almost 20 years.

Scherr said he has 19 years in public service. He started as a volunteer firefighter before shifting to the medical side of first responding, working for an ambulance service and ski patrol at Copper Mountain Resort. He also volunteered in disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

In 2014, Scherr joined the Dillon Police Department after graduating from Colorado Mountain College’s Law Enforcement Training Academy. He’s worked as both an officer and detective, and has worked alongside several agencies in the county, including the Sheriff’s Office. 

“I think I’m very familiar with how they operate,” Scherr said.

Why FitzSimons wants a second term

Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons will defend his seat as sheriff against challenger and Dillon Patrol Officer Chris Scherr in the Nov. 2022 general election.
Jaime FitzSimons/Courtesy photo

When FitzSimons ran for the sheriff’s seat in 2016, he said he saw an opportunity to apply his passion and drive.

“My vision of where the Sheriff’s Office should go in the future and the vision of my opponent at the time were very different,” FitzSimons said. “And so it compelled me to risk everything.”

When asked why he’s running again, he said, it’s because he is still passionate.

“Why do I still do it? It’s because I’m not done,” he said. “I still have that drive and that passion to lead this community.”

FitzSimons said he hopes to set up the Sheriff’s Office for success and leave the office better than he found it. He said he has no key changes in his vision for the office, beyond what vision the community sets for him. He said he wants to continue in his role as the “ultimate community advocate.”

As for key issues facing the community, FitzSimons placed the county’s mental health, its fight against substance abuse, and its general safety and security as it increasingly becomes “a suburb of Denver” as key issues, although he said there are many more for his office to address.

When it comes to what FitzSimons is most proud of from his first six years, the first topic in his mind is mental health. The office’s Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team and Strategies to Avoid Relapse and Recidivism — or SMART and STARR — programs have been cited in federal legislation. Both work with people experiencing mental health crises either in the community or in the county’s jail.

Those account for just two topics among a list the sheriff touted, such as the Sheriff’s Office’s drug take-back program, police reform efforts, new pretrial services program and a planned narcotic interdiction team. Additional, the sheriff also said he was proud of his work at the capitol in Denver.

He’s also proud of the relationships he’s developed as sheriff with the county’s many officials. Lastly, he said he’s proud of the trust the community has shown for his office.

When asked how his office reflected Summit County’s diverse population, FitzSimons pointed to his efforts to engage his office and town police departments with the county’s Hispanic community. His office has hosted potluck meals and open forums in partnership with local community groups to discuss issues in the Hispanic community. He said he has strived to deconflict rumors surrounding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids by keeping close relationships with his federal partners.

Of the 98 employees in the Sheriff’s Office, FitzSimons reported 48 were female — 13 of which currently occupy leadership positions, he said — and 14 were of non-white ethnicity.

Before serving as sheriff, FitzSimons worked for the Sheriff’s Office for 18 years. Prior to that, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Police Department.

News and info related to Scherr’s campaign can be found at NextSummitSheriff.com, and FtizSimons’ campaign at FitzSimonsForSheriff.com.


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