Vallario edges out Winters by 78 votes in GarCo sheriff primary

Eight-year Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario barely won his Republican primary election Tuesday, in an outcome that both the loser and Vallario’s Democratic challenger says sends a message about voter dissatisfaction with the incumbent.

Vallario defeated Rifle resident Doug Winters, an Eagle County sheriff’s detective, by 78 votes, 2,308-2,230, 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,” Winters said.

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 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.

One of the biggest issues Winters raised in the primary was the growth of Vallario’s budget — something Dalessandri promises to focus on as well.

Said Vallario, “He can say what he wants about the budget; we’ll justify it.”


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