Commander suing county runs for commission post

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Rodney Gehrett is seeking a seat on the board that would decide whether to settle his lawsuit against the county. - GEHRETT CAMPAIGN WEBSITE
  • Gehrett Campaign Website
  • Rodney Gehrett is seeking a seat on the board that would decide whether to settle his lawsuit against the county.
UPDATE:
Sheriff's Commander Rodney Gehrett says he'll abstain from activities involving his lawsuit against the county should he be elected as a county commissioner in November.

Here's an emailed statement from him:
Regarding my federal lawsuit against El Paso County and former Sheriff Maketa, if there is no resolution prior to the start of my term, then I would certainly remove myself from any involvement in decisions about how the county should proceed. I stand by my decision to file the initial complaint along with Commander Rob King and Bureau Chief Mitch Lincoln. I believe the citizens of EI Paso County have a right to know the facts that were discovered as a result of our allegations and formal complaint.
He also notes that, contrary to our earlier post, he WILL NOT be taking a pay cut if elected. Why? Because the Colorado General Assembly last session passed a bill that bumps up pay for commissioners substantially: from $87,300 to $113,490, which figures out to be whopping 30 percent pay hike. The same pay increase will be seen by county treasurers, clerks and assessors in the state's biggest counties, which include El Paso, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer, Pueblo and Weld.
The same bill bumps the sheriff's pay from $111,000 to $144,430. All those changes pertain to those elected to those offices after Jan. 1, 2016, which includes the three people who are elected to the three seats up for grabs on the El Paso County Commission this year.

———-ORIGINAL POST WEDNESDAY, JAN. 6, 2016, 3:21 P.M.———————

Sheriff's Commander Rodney Gehrett
, one of five sheriff's employees who sued the county in federal court last March, has announced he's running for the District 3 seat on the Board of County Commissioners.

The seat is now held by Sallie Clark, who leaves office a year from now after serving three terms.

Gehrett joins five other candidates who have filed for the Republican nomination. They are: Alex Johnson, Javier Mazzetti, Susan Payne, Tyler Stevens and Stan Vanderwerf. No Democrats have filed for the office.

Gehrett sued the county citing persecution by former Sheriff Terry Maketa, as we previously reported, amid a strange episode over a supposedly missing internal affairs file regarding current Sheriff Bill Elder, who worked at the Sheriff's Office years ago. The lawsuit characterizes Maketa's and then-Undersheriff Paula Presley's so-called investigation as reckless, illegal and merely an attempt to cook up "dirty tricks" to undermine Elder's sheriff candidacy. Elder took office on Dec. 31, 2014.

Commanders Gehrett, Mitch Lincoln and Robert King were placed on administrative leave in May 2014 after filing a complaint against Maketa. Those three and Lt. Cheryl Peck and Sgt. Robert Stone filed the lawsuit in March 2015. All are currently employed at the Sheriff's Office.

The lawsuit, which is ongoing, doesn't state a specific dollar figure, but rather seeks "compensatory damages including physical and mental pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, impairment of the quality of life, any economic losses."
Read the entire initial complaint here: See related PDF ComplaintGehrett.pdf
The most recent filing in the case was Dec. 21 when the plaintiffs, including Gehrett, filed a response to the county's motion to dismiss.
Here's that filing:  See related PDF ResponseToMotionToDismiss.pdf
County commissioners meet in executive sessions to discuss litigation, strategy and whether to settle lawsuits sor pursue them. We've asked Gehrett if he intends to sit out such sessions involving his case, if elected, and will update if and when we hear back from him.

If elected, Gehrett would take a pay cut. He currently knocks down $103,552 a year as a sheriff's commander, but commissioners are paid a measley $87,300. We've also asked Gehrett about this, and will circle back if we hear from him.

Here's his news release, issued this afternoon:
Rodney Gehrett (R-Colorado Springs) has officially announced his candidacy for the El Paso County Commissioner seat that will be vacated by Commissioner Sally Clark in January of 2017, due to term limits.

“With three of the five county commissioners leaving office due to term limits in January of 2017, the 2016 election cycle is a critical time for El Paso County,” Rodney said. “More than ever, El Paso County needs experienced leaders to answer the call of public service and lead this community into the future. I have been a public servant for more than three decades, and I am not done yet. I have the experience, demonstrated leadership, and courage necessary to address challenges head on, ensuring the highest quality of life for all who call this great community home.”

As a County Commissioner, Rodney plans to focus his efforts to improve public safety services, repair and maintain infrastructure, and diversify and strengthen the local economy. He believes improvements in these three areas will have the most significant impact on the quality of life for all El Paso County citizens. “People prefer to live, work, and play in communities that are safe, with well maintained infrastructure and good paying jobs that allow them to provide for their families,” said Rodney. “Those same issues are equally important to local businesses owners.”

He has already picked up several key endorsements from local leaders. Among his supporters is Sheriff Bill Elder, who recently completed the first year of his four year term as Sheriff. “Rodney’s contributions to our collective success as an agency have been immeasurable during this past year,” said Elder. “I will hate to lose him as a member of my Command Staff, but his style of leadership is desperately needed in this community. He has my full support!”

Rodney is a 20 year veteran of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, where he currently serves as the Support Operations Division Commander. During his career, he has held numerous key positions such as Training Director, Standards and Technologies Manager, Public Information Officer, and Administrative Services Division Commander. His extensive experience managing people, resources, and budgets within the El Paso County government framework makes him uniquely qualified to serve as a commissioner.

In addition to his service with the Sheriff’s Office, Rodney has an extensive military background. He recently completed his 30th year of military service. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He serves as a Major with the US Army Reserve and is currently a Psychological Operations Officer, assigned to NORAD and USNORTHCOM at Peterson Air Force Base.



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