County commission to appoint sheriff’s replacement

Stan Hilkey’s pending departure from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office to take over as the state’s public safety chief sets up the prospect of political musical chairs that could begin and end with the county commission.

Hilkey recommended on Thursday that the commission appoint his undersheriff, Rebecca Spiess, to complete his unexpired term.

Commissioners on Monday are to get legal advice about how to proceed, if at all. Spiess could simply take over the job on Hilkey’s June 16 departure date. But Commissioner Rose Pugliese said she would like to see the commission act and that commissioners would consider Hilkey’s recommendation “pretty strongly,” noting that Spiess is familiar with the operations of the office and is well-respected by the staff.

Hilkey gave Spiess a vote of confidence in his resignation letter to the commission on Thursday, saying that Spiess acts as his chief of staff “and has a complete grasp on the current state of affairs in the office ... She is, simply, exceedingly ready and able to complete this term and serve our citizens with the same, or better, excellence seen in the Sheriff’s Office under my leadership.”

Hilkey cited the state Constitution and state law in noting that Spiess would automatically become sheriff with his departure, pending action by the commission.

Spiess would become Mesa County’s first woman sheriff, Pugliese noted.

The commission isn’t bound by Hilkey’s recommendation to appoint Spiess. It could look elsewhere, possibly at state Sen. Steve King, who is giving up his Senate seat to run to replace Hilkey, or to John Pennington, who ran an upstart campaign to capture the top line at the GOP county convention last month, setting up a Republican primary with King.

Voters will decide who goes on in the June 24 primary election.

If the commission takes no action pending the outcome of the primary and then appoints King, presuming he wins, then a series of dominoes would fall.

A vacancy committee then would have to choose someone to complete King’s unexpired term — an action that could become critical should Gov. John Hickenlooper call the Legislature into special session.

Hilkey’s predecessor, Riecke Claussen, was appointed in 2004 to complete the unexpired term of Gayle Berry, who resigned from her post in House District 55.

State Rep. Ray Scott would be the logical political choice to replace King as he faces a challenge for the Senate seat from Democrat Claudette Konola.

Presumably, Scott’s seat then would be filled by either Commissioner Steve Acquafresca or Dan Thurlow, the Republicans who will face off in the June 24 primary. Democrat Chris Kennedy would be their general election opponent.

If a District 55 vacancy committee selects Acquafresca to fill that post, a county vacancy committee then would have to fill his seat, for which Scott McInnis, a former U.S. Representative, is running against Democrat Mark Williams.


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Good ‘ol boys at it again. Remember Camper?

Remember when we needed “continuity” in the sheriff’s department. Remember when we needed to lift “term limits” on the sheriff. All for the sake of the good ol boys and gals. It was just so important that we “un term limit” the position. It is not so important now it seems?

Be a good idea if the recommendation was followed by a professional rather than commissioners politicking for any candidate.

Just appoint the undersheriff and let people decide through voting who the next sheriff will be.

Well said Steve. Personally I am supporting PENNINGTON. My small attempt at breaking up these good ol boys and gals. They just seem to move around from position to position which all seem to be conveniently vacant as they depart. How long will we continue to be duped?

County Officers

Colo. Const. Art. XIV, Section 9 (2013)


In case of a vacancy occurring in the office of county commissioner a vacancy committee of the same political party as the vacating commissioner constituted as provided by law shall, by a majority vote, fill the vacancy by appointment within ten days after occurrence of the vacancy. If the vacancy committee fails to fill the vacancy within ten days after occurrence of the vacancy, the governor shall fill the same by appointment within fifteen days after occurrence of the vacancy. The person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of county commissioner shall be a member of the same political party, if any, as the vacating commissioner. In case of a vacancy in any other county office, or in any precinct office, the board of county commissioners shall fill the same by appointment. Any person appointed pursuant to this section shall hold the office until the next general election, or until the vacancy is filled by election according to law.

Pull up the organizational chart for the county.  The Org. chart is suppose to reflect the authority level of an organization.

This is an interesting development since about 8-10 months ago there were some bloggers that predicted this after rumors started flying regarding one particular “Sheriff” candidate and its not me. If I were Pennington…

That is why I chose to run independent and as a write-in. Total autonomy and beholden to no one.  As the first women to run for Sheriff of this county, I will win if all the women in this county and the Latino community turn out. Certainly not part of the “good ole boy” culture.

“In case of a vacancy occurring in the office of county commissioner…...” Is the sheriff NOW a county commissioner? I happen to know many “women and latinos” who are not voting for you. Good luck in an “off year” turn out. Maybe some more “pulling up” needs to occur.

Not Freida Cook - Am a relative (Ltpar) - Common sense dictates in order to maintain continuity of operations Sheriff Hilkey’s recommendation be followed.  Undersheriff Spiess should be appointed to fill the position until the election.  Then, let the people listen to all candidates and vote for the most qualified.  Isn’t that what the election process is all about?

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