Summit Daily letters: Wife of former sheriff throws support behind Derek Woodman
October 16, 2018
Wife of former sheriff throws support behind Derek Woodman
As you know, the most contested local race this election season is that for the Summit County Sheriff between Jaime FitzSimons and Derek Woodman. While I will not be so presumptuous as to tell anybody who they should vote for, I will tell you who I am voting for and why.
It should be stated first and foremost that this letter is my personal endorsement in the sheriff's race and that John Minor, my husband, is electing not to publicly endorse either candidate at this time.
Since my husband first announced that he would be leaving the Summit County Sheriff's Office for the town of Silverthorne there has been a hotly contested race to fill his seat. While I didn't agree with who the county commissioners chose to appoint or my perception of the political games that were played, I decided to stay neutral and allow the process to play out. I was honestly dumbfounded at the time with the treatment that Derek Woodman received under the current sheriff, Jaime FitzSimons, and was left wondering this: If FitzSimons would treat his former friend like he did, how would he treat you? For those of you who were not in the county at the time or who need a refresher, upon appointment, the current sheriff and undersheriff attempted to destroy a man's career and escorted him out of the building as if he were a criminal. Derek Woodman devoted 35 years of his life protecting and serving this community, and he was essentially locked out of his office and forced to leave the premises. While the current sheriff will attempt to justify his treatment of Derek, it should be noted that this was not a one-and-done scenario. From what I understand, this has happened on a smaller scale to others who have opposed the administration or who have elected to leave the sheriff's office for other opportunities.
Like many of you, I went to the election forum the other night to listen to the two candidates speak. At one point in the forum there was a loaded question that led to Sheriff FitzSimons once again attempting to assassinate the character of his former friend. His response was met with boos and "Hollywood" shout-outs from the crowd. His response to the question also emphasized that Sheriff FitzSimons lacks what it takes to be a diplomatic leader. The office of Summit County Sheriff deserves someone with compassion, empathy and character. This was clearly not on display with the sheriff's comments that evening. At another point during the forum while once again self-promoting, FitzSimons began preaching that he would bring professionalism back to the sheriff's office under his administration. I would like to point out to everyone, that his administration is, or was until recently, comprised of the same individuals that were in my husband's. So, whose professionalism is he questioning? His or the rest of the staff?
I have a unique perspective of the current race, not only did my husband serve as your Summit County sheriff for 12 years, but once upon a time I wore the old brown uniform and served as a deputy under Sheriff Delbert Ewoldt. Derek Woodman became my husband's supervisor during that time and John stated that Derek was always fair, would listen to both sides of the story and never jumped to conclusions. It was partially due to these qualities that my husband appointed Derek as his undersheriff when he returned to run the organization in 2004. While I left law enforcement many years ago, due to my husband's position, I was essentially married to the sheriff's office during his 12 years there and have firsthand information about the programs that Derek Woodman created or helped to implement during that time, including the 5th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the School Resource Officer Program, mental health counseling for inmates in the jail and a partnership with local psychologists in the private sector to provide anger management counseling. While the majority of those programs are still in place and continue to grow, none of them would exist without Derek Woodman.
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My husband was proud of the organization when he left, and even more so of the deputies who are working there. They are good at their jobs and are dedicated to serving this community. They deserve to work for someone who will put their needs above his own and who will see the value in each and every one of them. Derek Woodman is a quiet, compassionate leader. He will listen to the voices of the community, lead by example and treat everyone with the kindness and respect that they deserve. You will never have to wonder where he is when something happens in Summit, nor will you ever see him taking the credit for other's successes. My husband has his own version of the golden rule that he shared with all of his deputies, "Police others as you would want to be policed, and treat others as you would want to be treated." Derek Woodman embraces that standard. He deserves the opportunity to serve as the Summit County Sheriff, and he has earned my vote.
Why reserve funds can't do what 1A does
Several comments in the Summit Daily and elsewhere suggest that Summit County operating and reserve funds should be a source of funding for 1A community needs. I want to clarify the necessity and function of the county reserves. We take fiscal responsibility seriously and over the past 10 years have worked hard to develop a reserve that ensures county government has the wherewithal to withstand a significant natural disaster and its recovery, or a lengthy economic downturn. As recently as 2009–10 we experienced a recession and each of the past three years we have narrowly avoided catastrophic wildfires that would have required millions in county financial support for both firefighting and recovery efforts. Couple that with the likely loss of sales tax revenues when visitation is impacted and property tax reductions when homes and businesses are destroyed and it further demonstrates the need for reserves.
Having reserves to deal with emergencies is necessary to respond efficiently, and get our communities back to work, school and economic progress. Wildfire is likely our biggest emergency threat, and under state law, counties are the responsible entity for wildfire occurring on non-federal lands. Even when the fire is 100 percent federal land, the county pays a fair share due to the heightened response for "values at risk." We would not have had the rapid air resource responses that we witnessed for the Peak 2 Fire, Tenderfoot Fire or the Buffalo Mountain Fire without the nearby "values at risk" — our neighborhoods and residents.
Our reserves are based on reasonable calculations of the county's financial responsibility and resiliency, and factor in state and federal funds that would be requested and received. I believe our citizens would agree that we should have reserves in place in order to respond to economic and other emergencies in an efficient manner.
Vote for Julie McCluskie
It is always good for a community to have one of its local residents as its representative in the state's political office. In the upcoming election we have a Summit County resident as the Democratic candidate for our District 61 State Representative, Julie McCluskie. She represents many, if not all, of the values which most Summit County residents hold dear, including strong support for public education, affordable housing, environmental protection, and affordable expanded health services.
Unfortunately, District 61 includes several areas which do not necessarily support these ideas, and have chosen a Republican opponent who, in general, opposes almost all of these positions. At the debate, he appeared unprepared and/or unable to think on his feet. He also declared climate change a hoax. Thus, this is a critical election for our district, which has been ably represented for the past few terms by someone who embodies all these values, our former school superintendent, Millie Hamner. Millie has strongly endorsed Julie McCluskie, because she believes that Julie represents, by far, the best choice for people who want to continue moving these policies forward.
We live in a community where the primary economic engine is tourism, and our needs DO include a thriving public education system, a critical need for affordable housing, protection for the forests and our outdoor environment in general, and high-quality health care at affordable prices for all our citizens, regardless of income. The anti-government attitude of her opponent, driven almost wholly by an anti-tax rationale, simply doesn't fit in a community where so many of our employees work in relatively low-wage service jobs. We need a voice like Julie's to support policies which will keep our local economy thriving.
In the upcoming election, be sure to vote for the continued economic health of your community. A vote for Julie McCluskie is a vote for both her and for yourself.
Proposition 112 deserves your 'yes' vote
John Fielder's comments about Proposition 112 are correct, but he actually dramatically understates the distance a company can conduct slant drilling. According to a research scientist at SINTEF Petroleum Research, with current technology the present limit is about 7 miles, and in the near future it is anticipated technology will allow 12-mile distances. So, as Mr. Fielder properly questions, why is the oil and gas industry worried about the affects of a 2,500 foot offset from schools, homes and such? There should be no concern whatsoever.
In addition, as a well-respected oil and gas geologist (retired USGS) recently informed me, most of the drilling in Colorado is in the Denver Basin and this area has been productive for many decades. Any remaining resources are likely very small. As the geologist put it, "There is little economic incentive to drill new wells."
Mr. Fielder is correct. The arguments against Proposition 112 do not hold water.
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