Felony disqualifies sheriff candidate from ballot
A candidate for Mesa County sheriff has been disqualified because of a felony conviction.
Pear Park resident Rocky Hutson, who filed notice with the state in August about plans to run unaffiliated for Mesa County sheriff, learned in recent correspondence from Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner that his name can’t appear on November’s general election ballot.
Colorado law requires sheriff candidates to submit fingerprints, which are turned over to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for a background check. Results are sent to the clerk in a report. Candidates are “unqualified” by conviction, guilty plea or no contest plea to a federal or state felony.
Records at the Mesa County Justice Center say Hutson was convicted of felony theft in a 1999 case tried by now-Chief Judge David Bottger. He was sentenced to three years in the Colorado Department of Corrections followed by an identical term of parole, which Hutson says he served all but 28 days of before his discharge.
The case involved theft of hay, Hutson explained.
Hutson claimed Reiner is relying on an outdated section of statute and said he plans on suing Reiner and the Clerk and Recorder’s office in a federal court action, adding that he “ain’t going to play around with these Mickey Mouse judges here in Mesa County.”
“She took it upon herself to make this decision,” he said. “She wasn’t told by anyone else.”
While threatening legal action, Hutson acknowledged, “I cannot run this cycle.”
Candidates for sheriff in Colorado must be U.S. citizens, a resident of the county where elected office is sought and hold a high school diploma, its equivalent or a college degree.
First-time elected sheriffs must attend at least 80 hours of a new-sheriff training developed by the county sheriffs of Colorado, or “any other training resource agency approved by the Colorado Peace Officers Standards and Training board,” state law reads.
For a non-POST certified elected sheriff, basic peace officer certification must be obtained within a year of taking office.
Counties “shall pay all reasonable costs and expenses” for training of new sheriffs, in addition to in-service training costs, state law says.