Jaime FitzSimons re-elected as Summit County sheriff after contentious campaign
An end has finally arrived in Summit County’s fiercest and most heated race. Incumbent Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons, a Democrat, again emerged victorious over Republican challenger Derek Woodman.
The 2016 sheriff’s race — pitting FitzSimons and Woodman against each other for the first time on the political stage — went down to the wire, as Summit County voters elected FitzSimons by a thin margin of just over 600 votes. Woodman promised his constituents after the loss in 2016 that we would return to challenge FitzSimons this year. He made good on his promise, but as numbers began rolling in on Tuesday night, it was clear that FitzSimons’ message of improving mental healthcare and addressing growing call volumes at the sheriff’s office spoke to voters. FitzSimons won more than 60 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.
“The voters have spoken and chosen me to be sheriff for the next four years,” said FitzSimons. “I’m so happy to have the campaign behind us and to continue serving as your sheriff. I would not be here without the unwavering support of my wife, Lena, and my amazing kids…thank you for sticking with me throughout.”
While a jubilant crowd celebrated at HighSide Brewing alongside FitzSimons in Frisco, the mood was considerably more subdued down the road at the Red Mountain Grill in Dillon where Woodman’s supporters gathered to take in the results. As the door slowly closed on Woodman’s candidacy, he offered a thank you to his supporters.
“All I have to say is thank you to those who believed in me and supported my efforts,” said Woodman. “My efforts were truly in the best interest of Summit County, and I had an amazing team to support me in my campaign. I can’t thank them enough.”
FitzSimons — who was appointed sheriff in 2016 following former Sheriff John Minor’s departure to head the Silverthorne Police Department — ran primarily on a platform of improved mental health services for individuals coming into contact with law enforcement officials in the county. He noted that his first priority upon taking office would be to limit the number of people suffering from mental health illnesses being placed in jail, noting possible alternatives such as a mental health court, and a “mental health navigator” within the jail to help those individuals seek treatment outside of custody.
FitzSimons also emphasized a necessity for better funding in the office, noting a substantial increase in call volume over recent years, and a lack of funds to help deal with them.
FitzSimons grew up in Los Angeles where he started his career in law enforcement at the LAPD in 1990. With the LAPD he served as a patrol sergeant and detective, along with other work in the gang and undercover narcotics unit. In 2006 he started with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office where he quickly rose through the ranks, while also served as a member of the Summit County Combined SWAT Team.
FitzSimons is also an active member of the community, serving on a number of local boards including Building Hope, the TreeTop Child Advocacy Center and the Colorado Commission for Adult Offender Supervision.
Woodman, another Los Angeles native who spent more than 35 years with the Sheriff’s Office, ran on a platform of increased drug enforcement measures within the county and spoke about the necessity of a culture change to help retain employees.
But ultimately, after a long and hard fought campaign, Summit County voters chose to reelect FitzSimons.
“To my incredible leadership team and staff that kept doing their job serving the community in the face of such adversity, a job well done,” said FitzSimons. “To my extraordinary campaign team, I couldn’t do it without you. Next, thank you to everyone who cast a vote, planted a sign, staffed a phone bank, talked to a neighbor or corrected the commentary on social media. The community came together, and I’m so honored to receive their vote of confidence and overwhelming support.
“I must confess, my diplomacy was tested more than once during this race. I’m proud of our campaign staying on the high road throughout. I am so excited for the next four years and the good we’ll accomplish. There are so many important matters to work on over the years to come. Our community faces some real challenges. I’m up to the task and look forward to working collaboratively to solve these problems.”
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