King controversy draws another hopeful toward contest
Recent revelations about misconduct by the front-runner for the office of Mesa County Sheriff, Steve King, didn’t directly lead to Ralph Hamblin deciding to join the race, but it certainly “cemented” the idea of him running, Hamblin said.
The 60-year-old Hamblin — who most recently served as the number two official with the Transportation Security Administration on the Western Slope — said he had been considering an unaffiliated run at the job because he believed the candidates in the race lacked the right qualifications.
So Wednesday, Hamblin made the informal announcement to friends and local media that he was hoping to petition onto the November ballot for sheriff.
“It’s my opinion that the Sheriff’s Office has a very good reputation in the community, and it’s taken a long time to get to that point. Like a lot of people, I would hate to see that disturbed. I would hate to see that tarnished in any way,” Hamblin said.
He said now that King has won the Republican primary over John Pennington despite the misconduct revelations, the office’s well-earned reputation could be in jeopardy.
“This puts the Republican party in a quandary right now. They’ve put forward a candidate who’s been fired from the very office in which he’s asking to be elected to lead,” Hamblin said.
In addition to his role in setting up the local branch of the TSA, which spans nine area airports, Hamblin is a retired Army officer, has a law degree, worked as an adviser to the Afghan National Army, and has requisite certification via the Peace Office Standards and Training program.
Hamblin said he’s done a number of ride-alongs with local sheriff’s deputies, and knows a number of people who work in the sheriff’s office.
“It’s safe to say that I’ve been encouraged to run,” said Hamblin, who today is registered unaffiliated, but was registered Democrat in 1972. and later in life registered Republican.
To make the November ballot, Hamblin must get 750 signatures of registered voters — of any political stripe — by July 10 to have his petition approved. Before signature collection can happen, though, Hamblin needs to recruit three unaffiliated voters willing to sign on to his initial petition.
“I’m not a politician, which may be somewhat difficult for me, because I’m going to speak my mind, and I’ll speak the truth, and I’m not going to equivocate or waffle,” Hamblin said.
There are others who have expressed a desire to jump into the race as well. There is no Democrat candidate, and Mesa County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Arotin has said he plans to petition onto the November ballot as unaffiliated. Two write-in candidates, Mike Harlow and Benita Phillips, are expected to try and challenge for the job as well.