Published: March 29, 2014
Bill Elder will likely be the next El Paso County Sheriff after he swept the Republican field Saturday, knocking down two candidates, including Sheriff Terry Maketa's hand-picked replacement.
"There's a new sheriff in town," said El Paso County Republican Chair Daniel Cole. "We can start putting the inter-party contention behind us now. We'll band together and win the tough races."
A candidate required 30 percent of the delegate vote Saturday at the El Paso County Republican Assembly to get on the ballot, but Elder pulled 65 percent of the more than 1,000 delegates, preventing a June primary.
Anderson received 15 percent of the vote, finishing third behind Jim Reid, the county's public services director.
Elder is all but guaranteed the position now, because there are no candidates from other political parties in the race.
Elder, the deputy chief of police in Fountain, entered the race for sheriff early and had the backing of District Attorney Dan May and the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association.
But former El Paso County Sheriff John Anderson made things interesting when he entered late with the backing of the incumbent sheriff, Maketa.
Things turned negative quickly in the campaign.
"The hardest part for me, I think, was the personal attacks," Elder said Saturday after having secured the nomination. "It was very hard to stay away from that but I think we knew in our hearts, if we did that, we could win. We had no idea we would be the lone survivor."
Anderson's late entry to the race also may have hampered his chances at earning a nomination. Elder had a significant head start, filing his paperwork to run for office in November 2012.
The race has been fueled by rumors of a missing Internal Affairs file on Elder, who worked for the Sheriff's Office for 19 years. The file was reported stolen last spring.
Maketa was been vocal about the file and the subsequent investigation into its whereabouts.
"The missing file was so distracting," Elder said. "I want to be clear. There was no file, regardless, at this point we move forward."
Maketa did not return a call to the Gazette Saturday.
Elder was gracious in victory, saying his win Saturday was the result of a well-organized, hard-fought campaign and is in no way a reflection on Maketa or the other candidates.
"Terry has been a great sheriff," he said. "He has done some amazing things and I gave him my word that I would not change things."
It would be virtually impossible for one of the other Republican candidates to petition on at this point, as 11,000 signatures would be required by Monday.
Elder said after six months of hard work, he's ready for a break.
Contact Megan Schrader