Joe Pelle handily elected sheriff
Democrat overwhelms Libertarian
By Pam Regensberg and Christine Reid, Camera Staff Writers
November 6, 2002
Who won: There's a new sheriff in town. Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly
elected Joe Pelle, a converted Democrat, to become Boulder County's next sheriff.
Pelle handily beat Libertarian candidate Bo Shaffer, who campaigned on his party's
civil liberties platform, by garnering 83.4 percent of the vote countywide with two
precincts remaining outstanding.
Pelle, a 22-year police veteran, sold himself as a law enforcement professional, and
the voters bought it.
What will change: Pelle, who replaces term-limited sheriff George Epp, has said he's
not going to immediately make changes to the county office. However, during the next
four years he said he plans to tackle three big issues: jail overcrowding, retention of
qualified deputies and finding a way to provide better service to the outlying areas of
The 43-year-old Longmont resident has participated in sheriff staff meetings to help
smooth the transition in January, when he will be sworn in. He has also been active in
assuring his spot as commander of the detective division at the Boulder Police
Department will be left in capable hands.
What voters said: Since he announced his plan to run for sheriff, Pelle faced little
He won endorsements from popular Sheriff Epp and Boulder County District Attorney
In the Democratic primary, Pelle easily beat Wanda Sterner, a retired sheriff's
sergeant, by winning 72.6 percent of the vote.
Shaffer, who has no law enforcement experience and is best known for keeping
Nederland's "Grandpa" Bredo Morstoel frozen in his Tuff Shed, barely campaigned for
the position. Pelle had said he thought Shaffer was running only to espouse his
party's viewpoint, not because he wanted to be the sheriff.
Quote: "I was optimistic about the results, but it's rewarding for it to be this strong. ...
I knew when I started this career I wanted to take it as far as I could. I looked at some
chief jobs, but they all involved a move and I wasn't willing to do that. This is
awesome to get to continue to live in the place I live and enjoy the lifestyle I do and be
— Joe Pelle