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Lake County removes sheriff from office

Brief by Central Staff

Law Enforcement – July 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

Lake County Sheriff George Sheers lost his job on June 5 when voters recalled him from office and elected Ed Holte, a former state trooper, to fill out the remainder of the term.

Of the 4,513 registered voters in Lake County, 1,410 (31.2%) went to the polls, to vote Sheers out of office by a 925-460 margin.

As soon as the results were in, the department’s staff began departing — Undersheriff Mike Payne, Detective Vince Iovinella, and deputies Chris Martinez and Kevin Carson all resigned, with more expected.

The official reasons on the ballot for the recall were “Failure to supervise employees; Failure to train employees properly; Failure to provide adequate patrol in the county; Mishandling of calls to service.”

The real reason probably involves a deputy whom Sheers once had on the payroll. The deputy, acting as a contractor, got a $250,000 contract to install a new phone system in the courthouse — one that didn’t work properly. And then it turned out that the fellow was not certified as a Colorado peace officer, and that he couldn’t pass the test when he took it.

Little wonder that voters were angry.

After the election, the Leadville Herald-Democrat quoted Sheers as saying he didn’t believe recall should be part of the system. “This type of process will discourage good people from running for office. They are just going to sit on the sidelines and not get involved.”

We’d like to think that recalls help insure that there are good people in office.