by Dalton Carver
Lance FitzGerald, newly sworn-in sheriff for Ouray County, first saw the sign on his way to Ouray several months ago – out of the corner of his eye, a blur of yellow and red in the distance. Initially unsure of what it was, he dismissed the sign and continued on his way. Upon another look, followed by two more just to make sure, FitzGerald noticed something very familiar on the sign on a county resident’s property.
“The closer I got, I realized it was my name on it and I had to do a triple take,” said FitzGerald in a sit-down interview Tuesday morning, right after he was sworn into the position at the Ouray Community Center. “I literally almost went off the road and into the river because I was dumbfounded my name was on it.”
In addition to notifying everyone in viewing distance that the owner was in support of FitzGerald leading the county’s law enforcement agency, it also brought the sheriff-elect to the conclusion he should officially announce his candidacy for Ouray County sheriff.
At the time, Ouray County Undersheriff Joel “BB” Burk was the only candidate vying for the position that would be left open by a retiring Dominic “Junior” Mattivi the following year. Burk already had signs, a campaign committee and was the county’s Republican Party selection for the position.
Over the next few days, FitzGerald began to notice more signs supporting him for the county position popping up throughout the county. It’s an image that symbolizes the way FitzGerald eventually won the election in November. He attributes his win in the close race to a strong grassroots effort spurred on by his campaign team, consisting of Manager Chad Jukes and Secretary Crista Meyer.
After FitzGerald’s unaffiliated candidacy bid and petitions for the position were officially accepted by the Secretary of State prior to the deadline of July 12, the trio took to the streets to see if they could grow their grassroots campaign effort.
Judging by the results of the election, in which FitzGerald eventually won by 11 votes, they succeeded.
On Tuesday, FitzGerald said these efforts were one of the primary reasons...