La Plata County resident Charles Hamby has thrown his hat into the ring for sheriff, 18 months before the election.
Hamby said if elected he would uphold the values of what it means to serve and protect, and he won’t let politics interfere with that mission.
“As sheriff, you base your decisions on the safety and protection of the county,” he said. “I don’t believe in making decisions for political reasons.”
He offered few specifics about how he would lead the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office or what he would do differently than Sheriff Sean Smith, saying those details will come out during the campaign. He said every part of the county deserves the same level of service.
“Everybody in our community, no matter how far out in the county you live, deserves the same protection from the Sheriff’s Office – equal protection as anyone else,” Hamby said. “Sometimes, especially if things are based on statistics, sometimes the people in the more rural areas of the county seem to fall through the cracks.”
Hamby, who is running as a Republican, is the first to announce his candidacy for the 2018 sheriff’s election in La Plata County.
Smith, a Democrat, was elected to a four-year term in November 2014 after soundly defeating five-term incumbent Duke Schirard, a Republican.
In an interview Thursday, Smith said it’s “a little premature” to be discussing the election, saying sheriff’s races don’t typically last 1½ years, but he confirmed he plans to seek re-election.
“I look forward to a vigorous debate with Mr. Hamby,” Smith said. “We’ve substantially cut costs, we are being fiscally responsible, we’ve really increased our presence in the community and we have received comment from the public on a regular basis of how much of a change they’ve seen in the Sheriff’s Office. I think we’ve earned a chance to continue the work that we’ve begun.”
Hamby, 50, has 28 years of experience in law enforcement. He attended the Criminal Justice Academy at Texas A&M University; worked as a patrolman in Brenham, Texas; was hired by the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office in 2001; and joined the Southern Ute Tribal Rangers in December 2014, a month before Smith took office.
He declined to discuss his reason for leaving the Sheriff’s Office, other than to say, “It was time for me to leave.”
Hamby and his wife, Dianna, have three children who graduated from Durango High School. His campaign slogan is “Honesty, integrity and accountability.”
He used to compete in arm-wrestling championships across the nation, and was inducted into the Colorado Armwrestling Hall of Fame in 2009. He still arm wrestles once or twice a year as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity and veterans service organization.