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Publish Date: 10/8/2006

Cooke remains Weld County sheriff


Candidates for Weld County clerk and recorder, sheriff and assessor are running unopposed on the November ballot.

That means Chris Woodruff, the county’s deputy assessor since 1999, can already start planning for next year’s biennial property assessments; Clerk and Recorder Steve Moreno has a chance to get out a little more during his likely second term; and Sheriff John Cooke will be able to build on his successes.

Cooke was the first sheriff in Colorado to have a county’s sex offenders listed on its Web site and pushed legislation that eventually allowed other counties to follow suit.

He also took on Weld County’s continuing vehicle fatality problems by working with other county agencies to perform more DUI checkpoints and singling out habitual traffic offenders.

After the county had 96 traffic fatalities in 2004, the number fell to 46 in 2005, and Cooke said the county is on track to record fewer than 40 in 2006.

In his next term, Cooke will oversee the construction and opening of a 400-bed wing of the Weld County jail, called the North Jail Complex. The expansion will double the number of beds in the jail and require 80 more employees.

Moreno, in his second four-year term, wants to do more community outreach, such as helping high school students run a school election.

He also would like to improve the county’s Web site.

“It’s to inform the voters a little bit more, who may not be informed of the duties of the clerk and recorder,” he said.

Moreno, 45, has worked at the Weld County Clerk and Recorder’s Office since 1985. He had served as the chief deputy and deputy clerk in the office since 1995, before winning the top job in 2002.

Moreno helped Weld become the second county in the state to be able to electronically file documents, which he said was a major milestone for the office and the public.

Next door at the assessor’s office, Woodruff is in line to replace Stan Sessions, who is term-limited after eight years and two terms. Sessions twice ran unopposed for the job.

Woodruff has been second-in-command for most of Sessions’ time in office. He’s also been doing assessments in the public sector since 1979, including stints in El Paso and Douglas counties.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to be an elected official,” Woodruff said. “It’s the one part that I haven’t done yet.”

On May 1, the office will mail 165,000 notices of property value, which will reflect the recent foreclosure spike.

Property values will likely go down in some areas of Weld County, he said.

When a reassessment is completed, the office typically fields about 5,000 protests.

Woodruff said he’s ready to step into the role as the public face of the entire process.

 
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