Conspiracy theories fly in race for El Paso County sheriff 

Long Story Short

Toward the end of writing this week's cover story (starting here), I had a dream.

In it, dozens of rocket-propelled Ford Crown Victorias — marked with El Paso County Sheriff logos — zoomed through the sky, shooting lasers at each other. I stood on the city street below, watching this grand spectacle and trying to dodge the debris that rained down.

As metaphors go, this wasn't a bad one to describe what's going on with the campaign to replace term-limited Sheriff Terry Maketa. The ammo, of course, isn't lasers. It's questions about the candidates' fitness for office. And the debris? Well, let's just say I might have found myself on the receiving end of some of the vitriol this issue is causing.

My research into the history of candidates Jim Reid and Bill Elder led to a number of surprises. But Elder's background yielded the most, largely because of a discipline file that is either missing or fabricated, depending on whom you ask. That file would have contained any allegations of wrongdoing by Elder in his 20-year career with the sheriff's office.

On one side of this battle is Maketa, who says he's trying to root out whomever swiped the file out of a locked room in April — a file that some describe as "an inch thick." On the other side is Elder, who says he never had a file, and that this crisis is being manufactured by people who don't want to see him win a Republican primary in June.

In other words, the conspiracy theories are flying.


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