Silverthorne’s John Minor gets sheriff job

Christine McManus
John Minor

BRECKENRIDGE – The new Summit County Sheriff, beginning Jan. 5, will be Silverthorne Police Sgt. John Minor.

After interviewing three finalists the past several weeks, the Summit County Board of Commissioners decided on Friday to appoint Minor. The Silverthorne sergeant was the only finalist who does not currently work at the sheriff’s office.

“Coming in from the outside, John Minor will have fresh, new eyes to make the sheriff’s office even better than it already is,” said Commissioner Gary Lindstrom. “We really felt all three candidates would have been a great sheriff. John Minor interviewed very well. He has a positive attitude, he’s well liked in the community and he has experience in the jail and in Silverthorne.”

This will be Minor’s second stint at the sheriff’s office. He first worked in the jail in the early 1990s before transferring to the Silverthorne Police Department 10 years ago.

Minor also has contacts around the state through his position on the Peace Officer Standards and Training board, Lindstrom said.

The county commissioners asked candidates to refrain from making any major changes until after the November election, when Summit County voters will select a sheriff. According to Lindstrom, outgoing Sheriff Joe Morales is the best sheriff Summit County has had in years, and he left a good footprint.

The two other finalists, sheriff’s captains Mike Phibbs and Derek Woodman, said they will likely run for the sheriff’s office position in November.

Phibbs oversees the jail and used to work for the Silverthorne Police Department in the early 1990s. He has experience with budgets, security upgrades and has worked in the schools.

Phibbs said things run well at the sheriff’s office, but record keeping could be more efficient and the sheriff’s policy manual needs to be updated.

Woodman has supervised each division in the sheriff’s office. If appointed, he said he would not have changed much at the sheriff’s office. Woodman has one of the longest tenures at the sheriff’s office, having worked there for 22 years.

Minor’s appointment will last at least through early 2005, when the candidate elected in November is sworn into office.

“I’m pretty shocked. I’m excited,” Minor said. “I felt my candidacy was a long shot to begin with, because there were two other highly qualified people within the sheriff’s office who were also in the running.”

Minor said he will sit down with the two other candidates, Phibbs and Woodman, and others to review the policies, procedures and practices of the sheriff’s office. He also wants to survey deputies’ morale.

“I can’t anticipate making any major changes, except starting a citizens’ committee to get people more involved with the sheriff’s office,” Minor said. “As I’ve said before, it’s the citizens’ sheriff’s office, not the sheriff’s office. Mike and Derek will play a crucial role in this transition, and we’ll get this done together – at least that’s my hope.”

Minor also plans to look into accreditation for the Summit County sheriff’s office. Accreditation would mean the sheriff’s office would be measured and compared to other standardized law enforcement agencies. For example, the jail practices and inmate health care would be compared to other agencies’ policies.

Minor will be sworn in the day that Summit County sheriff Joe Morales begins his daily commute to Denver as the new director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety – Colorado’s branch of the Department of Homeland Security. Morales was appointed by Colorado Gov. Bill Owens last month.

“I’m a little disappointed,” said Morales. “It’s nothing against John. I’m a strong advocate of the leaders who I’ve been fostering within my staff over the years.”

Silverthorne Police chief John Patterson had a similar expression of pride in his own sergeant. Minor is a good listener, genuinely cares about the community, has good judgement and he is well respected by fellow officers, Patterson said.

“This is a feather in our cap. I’m thrilled and happy for John,” said chief Patterson. “Our loss will be their gain. I’m proud of John and I look forward to working with him as the Summit County sheriff.”

Several applications came in last month from outside of Summit County, even as far away as Florida.

“We wanted someone who lives in Summit County because this is an elected position,” Lindstrom said.

After the announcement was made Friday morning, the two runner-up candidates briefly chatted with the sheriff appointee in the Summit Courthouse in Breckenridge.

“This announcement will end a month of stress for employees at the sheriff’s office,” said Phibbs. “Instead of having the “what ifs’ and worries, at least we have a goal we can get behind and move forward.”

Capt. Woodman had similar sentiments.

“There were three qualified individuals who do things differently,” Woodman said, declining to specifying the differences. “I look forward to working just as hard for John as I do for Sheriff Morales.”

Morales, who will continue to live in Summit County, offered some advice to Minor.

“Never take the office for granted for a minute. Never forget who you work for. The citizens are your boss,” Morales said.

Christine McManus can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.