by Rick Langenberg
After months of speculation, Teller County may have a sheriff’s race after all.
Danny “DJ” Riley, a Florissant resident who boasts more than 40 years of law enforcement work, including an extensive stint in the military, has decided to enter the sheriff’s race as a Republican contender. He will challenge incumbent Mike Ensminger, who announced months ago his plans to seek re-election.
However, Riley, a Teller resident since 2002, faces a surmountable hurdle in challenging an incumbent backed by many county Republican leaders. Riley plans to petition his way onto the ballot and so must secure close to 750 signatures from registered Teller Republican voters by the end of the month. The Florissant resident said he doesn’t want to take his chances through the caucus and assembly process, which kicks off this week. “I don’t want to owe anyone any favors if I get elected. I am funding my campaign completely myself and am not asking for donations,” said Riley. “I plan to be the most unbiased sheriff in Teller County.”
As for his reasons for seeking the Republican nomination for sheriff, Riley believes he is the best choice based on his qualifications, and the issues facing the sheriff’s agency and Teller County. “I believe I can do a better job in running the department than what is being done now,” said Riley, who says he has received much support since he recently launched his campaign. Riley said he has collected already more than 200 signatures.
Riley’s campaign marks his first bid for elected office, a fact he attributes to his years with the military. “We weren’t elected. We were told (to serve),” he quipped, in relating his extensive experience in the U.S. Army. And from a personal standpoint, Riley says the job would give him a chance to spend more time with his family, kids and grand-kids. As a contractor with the U.S. State Department who does polygraph examinations, he often travels overseas.
As for key issues, Riley said he is extremely concerned with the amount of lawsuits facing the sheriff’s department, a few of which have been filed by former employees. “That is something I really want to look into. We shouldn’t have this many lawsuits for a county like Teller,” said Riley, who also is worried about the reported high level of turnover at the agency.
Moreover, Riley says he isn’t afraid to challenge the current Ensminger administration. “Teller County needs a change in the sheriff’s department,” said the candidate in a prepared statement. “The Teller County Sheriff’s Office is lacking respect and honor from other law enforcement agencies and most importantly from the citizens of Teller County. Please help us by signing the petition and together we can change Teller County.”
At the same time, he cites some of the key issues mentioned by the Ensminger camp, including protecting the Second Amendment rights of gun owners and abiding by the constitution. However, the candidate believes the department needs to take a stronger stand in protecting children from sexual predators, using jail inmates for work duties around the county and cracking down on serious drugs.
Riley, according to his website, served with the army for 20 years, retiring as a chief warrant officer. He also served as a special agent for the army’s Criminal Investigation Division and was involved in investigating a variety of crimes, including fraud, illegal drugs and property violations. In addition, Riley became a certified polygraph examiner, a role that he continued after he retired from the military.
He started his own private investigator and polygraph business in Colorado Springs in the early 1990s. He is now employed as a contractor by the U. S. State Department, and has been deployed eight times to the Middle East to do polygraph examinations in many hotbed areas, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Riley will be holding a “meet and greet” at the Ute Pass Cultural Center on March 15 from 2 to 4 pm. For information about his candidacy, visit www.djriley4sheriff.com or call 748-2288/491-5745 or 896-0984.
The sheriff’s race may be one of the few that is being contested at the county level. As for other contested races, incumbent Betty Clark-Wine and challenger Violet Watt are seeking the GOP nomination for the assessor seat.
On Tuesday, the county’s political season kicks into high gear with the party caucuses in which delegates are chosen to the Democratic and Republican assemblies. During the assemblies, party leaders then vote on which candidates should appear on the primary ballots this summer.
Candidates, though, still have the option of bypassing this process and petitioning their way onto the ballot.
Editor’s Note: The TMJ will be profiling candidates for various races in the next few months. If interested in setting up interviews, contact us at email@example.com.