Vallario edges out Winters by 78 votes
Eight-year Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario barely won his Republican primary election Tuesday, in an outcome the loser and Vallario’s Democratic challenger say sends a message about voter dissatisfaction with the incumbent.
Vallario defeated Rifle resident Doug Winters, an Eagle County Sheriff’s Department detective, by 78 votes, 2,308 to 2,230, according to unofficial final results.
Winters said the close race sends a message “that Garfield County (voters), they’re fed up, they’ve had enough, and they want a change. Especially going into the general election, it’s sending a message that nothing’s a sure thing for any incumbent.”
Vallario will face Democrat Tom Dalessandri in November’s election. Dalessandri served as sheriff for eight years before being defeated by Vallario in 2002.
Dalessandri said he thought Winters would do well, but he didn’t expect the race to be so close.
“I think it’s a clear message. I think having Lou being an incumbent, I think it speaks volumes about how people feel in the county about how he runs the sheriff’s office,” Dalessandri said.
However, Vallario said lots of elections are decided by just a few percentage points. He said the vote shows a majority of Republicans are “happy with what’s going on” in the sheriff’s office.
“I think the Republican Party will get behind me now as their candidate,” he said.
He said he needs to focus now on convincing the county’s large number of unaffiliated voters to support him as well.
“This round’s over. Now we have to look ahead to the general election and continue to campaign hard,” he said.