There’s a new sheriff in town.
More specifically, Rich Valdez is now Archuleta County’s sheriff following his appointment to the position by the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners Wednesday afternoon.
The appointment was made in a special meeting Wednesday afternoon that was scheduled after Pete Gonzalez announced his retirement, which became effective Wednesday.
The retirement comes two and a half months before Gonzalez’s second term as sheriff would officially end on Dec. 31.
“It’s been forty-three years. It’s been a great ride,” Gonzalez said of his decision to step down, adding that his house sold and that he felt Valdez was ready to take over the position. Gonzalez recommended to the BoCC that Valdez be appointed.
Valdez is the only candidate for the position on the November ballot — a fact the BoCC recognized in approving their resolution to appoint Valdez as sheriff.
Prior to accepting a motion for Valdez’s appointment, BoCC Chair Clifford Lucero thanked Gonzalez for his work as sheriff, as well as “stepping up to the plate” during the county’s financial crisis.
Gonzalez sat in the audience during the meeting.
After accepting a motion for the resolution appointing Valdez, Lucero outlined a few of the board’s reasons for appointing Valdez, including that it would provide consistency for the department, that he was running unopposed, and that he has done a good job working for the department.
“He’s done a great job and he’s going to continue to do a great job for the community,” Lucero said.
During public comment, Jim Huffman, chair of the Archuleta County Republican Party, noted that the party’s vacancy committee voted unanimously to recommend Valdez for the appointment.
Following Valdez’s appointment to the position, he was sworn in by June Madrid — who is not only Archuleta County clerk, but is also Valdez’s mother.
Valdez then swore in the staff of the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, beginning with patrol deputies and followed by detention officers, special deputies (such as those who work both on patrol and in the Archuleta County Detention Center), and Valdez’s undersheriff, Tonya Hamilton, who was announced at the meeting.
For more information on Valdez and his appointment, see next week’s issue of The SUN.