Darren Weekly has declared victory as the Republican candidate for sheriff of Douglas County after a few days of vote counting and a thin margin with the next leading candidate.
Weekly, the head of investigations for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said July 1 that based on the vote tally and the remaining ballots, he won the primary.
In a letter submitted to Colorado Community Media, John Anderson — the former commander of the Castle Rock Police Department and a close second in the election — said it appeared he had lost but that he wouldn’t concede until every vote was counted.
“I’m extremely excited,” Weekly said. “I’m going to take the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to the next level.”
In the letter, Anderson said he would support Weekly as sheriff if he made one promise: to never use the Red Flag law.
“I cannot support you if you continue to enforce the unconstitutional Red Flag law,” according to the letter.
Under Colorado’s Red Flag law, law enforcement officers or private citizens can petition a judge to temporarily confiscate the firearms of someone who is a threat to themselves or others.
The controversial law was passed in 2019 with the support of current Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock. It was named the “Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act” after a DougCo deputy who was fatally shot by a mentally ill man in 2017.
Some have decried the law as an infringement on second amendment rights. Others have praised it, saying it offers a chance to prevent situations like what happened to Parrish, as well as suicides.
In an interview on July 1 with Colorado Community Media, Weekly said he wants to see the state legislature reform the law.
“The only time I'm going to ever move forward on one is if there is an imminent threat to loss of life and I have overwhelming evidence to support that,” he said. “I’m not going to stand by and let people die. I think that’s what citizens expect. I don’t think it’s the sheriff’s job to choose which laws the sheriff can and cannot enforce.”
DCSO has used the law on four people, he said.
Weekly added if he wins the November general election, he’s looking forward to taking a “serious look” at the structure of the organization, with a focus on putting more uniformed officers and patrol cars into the community.
As of July 1, Anderson had 33.4% of the votes and Weekly had 34.5% The margin for an automatic recount is half a percentage point. The clerk's office will continue to process a small number of incoming ballots for a few days following the election before the results are final.
Holly Kluth, the former undersheriff for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was in third place with 18% of the vote.
“I have been really just blessed to have gotten to know so many new people and gotten to know the heartbeat of Douglas County and what they're concerned about,” she said. “I don't plan on going anywhere, I hope I can use all that I learned to somehow serve the citizens of this county.”
Lora Thomas, who has served on the board of county commissioners since 2016, was the final candidate to enter the race in December. She received the lowest vote count at 8,039 votes.
“All I have to say is anybody who knows me knows I’m a woman of my word,” she said. "And I'm just truly disappointed.”
Since at least 1947, every Douglas County sheriff has been a Republican. Other candidates registered with the secretary of state’s office for the general election are Darren Hill, a Libertarian, and Michael Phibbs, who is unaffiliated with any party. There are no Democrats running for sheriff.
Whoever wins the general election will replace Spurlock, who has served in the role since 2014.
Public campaign finance data shows that candidates focused heavily on the primary, with Thomas spending more than $140,000 during the campaign, including a $100,000 loan, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s TRACER website. She raised about $49,000. Weekly spent about $130,000 and raised $124,000. Anderson raised $67,000 and spent about the same. Kluth raised $68,000 and spent about $64,000.
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