Forum Highlights Candidates for Sheriff, Commissioner for June 24 Primary

ballot box w hand

Five candidates, running for two positions in Prowers County, addressed a gathering of about 90 citizens at the Lamar Cultural Events Center in Lamar Thursday evening, May 29.  Hosted by Voices of Southeast Colorado and Second Amendment Defenders, the candidates for the June 24 primary for Prowers County Sheriff and Prowers County Commissioner for District Two, answered a series of questions as to why they would be the best person for the position.

Sam Zordel

Sam Zordel

Three employees from the Prowers County Sheriff’s Office are running for Sheriff, Ron Manly, Ron Trowbridge, and Sam Zordel.  Of the three, only Manly is guaranteed a slot on the November ballot as he is running as an unaffiliated candidate and his position will not be a consideration for the June 24 primary election.  Both Zordel and Trowbridge are running on the republican ticket, and one will be eliminated after the primary.  Both have been endorsed by outgoing Sheriff, Jim Faull.  Incumbent County Commissioner, Joe Marble, and challenger Ron Cook, also took questions from the audience, some specifically intended just for them as well as other randomly selected questions or those that had been prepared by the forum hosts.

Manly

Ron Manly

Some of the questions put before each of the sheriff’s candidates covered topics such as: How would you deal with local gangs; What plans do you have for the Sheriff’s Posse; Who would you select as the new Undersheriff; What changes would you make to the jail system, administration duties or coverage areas for patrol deputies?  If Trowbridge, who is the current undersheriff was elected, there would have to be a new person hired for the position.  Both Zordel and Manly said they were taking their time making a specific judgment if elected, but inferred that it could be someone other than Trowbridge.

Ron Trowbridge

Ron Trowbridge

Each of the three favored more involvement for the Sheriff’s Posse, a volunteer group that undergoes training and assists the deputies in some law enforcement duties.  All three candidates believed changes were needed in the way the jail is run, reducing staff turnover and offering additional training to help eliminate deficiencies. That department has the majority of employees in the sheriff’s office.  Trowbridge said he wanted the department to be more accountable to keeping crime victims informed on the legal process in their cases.  Zordel stated he has, and would continue to seek grants to help improve equipment used by deputies.  Manly said he would become more active in taking patrols with his deputies and would seek funding from the county to provide employee salary incentives.

Ron Cook and Joe Marble were each given time for an opening statement to the audience and as before, each selected questions at random as well as those questions that were specifically directed to each candidate.

Joe Marble

Joe Marble

Marble provided details on the county’s financial status, noting that the county, like the City of Lamar, has experienced a downturn in sales tax revenue of late.  “Despite that,” he said, “With proper management, we’re still in good shape for at least the next ten years.”  He said a future goal would be to create a centralized business office for the county, consolidating several departments under one roof for improved communication.  Marble remarked that 60% of the county’s annual budget goes to salaries and benefits.  Some department heads, he explained, need the permission of the commissioners to hire replacements, in order to keep costs down.  Asked if he would vote his conscience against the majority of county residents on some issues, Marble said that would be a hard call, remarking that voters have long memories.  The incumbent said he favors construction of the bypass, or reliever route, a long-discussed option for eliminating downtown traffic in Lamar.

Ron Cook

Ron Cook

Ron Cook, who currently serves on the Lamar City Council, noted that he and his wife recently sold their business, opening up an opportunity for people outside the county to locate here and help the community prosper.  He said, as commissioner, he’d work to create circumstances where the economic climate could be improved so others would be attracted to relocate in Prowers County.  A life-long county resident, Cook said his ten year vision would be job creation and economic stability while ensuring that water and property rights were protected from outside incursion.  Asked about spending from the county’s reserve fund, he said he is reluctant to go that way in light of the current balanced budget.  Cook felt that the reliever route would be in the best interest of the community.  He noted that CDOT is looking at plans for long-term improvements for Main Street in Lamar which will help the traffic flow while helping the downtown businesses.  He added that the right decisions would have to be made on the crucial exit and entrance access on the roadway.

On the NHA local controversy, the creation of National Heritage Areas, Cook said that was a “scary” proposition.  He said it was also too broad-based concerning property rights.  “It would work better if just specific areas were selected such as Camp Amache or other historical locations, and not taking blanket control over the entire county.  That’s not right,” he explained.  He said development of those areas could help increase tourism and the local economy, but not at the expense of personal property rights.  Addressing the drug climate in the county, Cook said he’d been sitting on the Task Force board that has been meeting over the past several months.  “There are some good, pro-active ideas that are coming from them, including the idea of a local Drug Court and additional coordinated law enforcement efforts,” he stated.  If elected as commissioner, Cook told the audience he would work to establish more camaraderie among the three commissioners.  “You have to weigh what’s best for the community and put aside any differences in order to make things work for all of us,” he explained.

Gerry Branes of Voices of Southeast Colorado was the moderator for the forum.  The June 24 primary election will be conducted by mail in ballot.  Voters are asked to make sure they have the proper street address on file with the Prowers Count Clerk & Recorder to ensure they receive their ballot in order to vote.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEmploymentEventsFeaturedGranadaHollyLamarLaw EnforcementPoliticsProwers CountyTourismTransportationUtilitiesWiley

Tags:

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.