Friday, November 7, 2008

Femling won't likely seek another term

Sheriff resentful over election tactics of opponent

Express Staff Writer

After another four years in office, Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling plans to hang up his badge as the county's top cop.

"You never say never, but right now my plan is not to run again," Femling said Wednesday, the day after he defeated challenger Steve England by garnering almost two-thirds of the vote. "That's part of my plan right now. After 34 years in law enforcement, this will probably be it."

Femling disputed that he said four years ago that he would not seek re-election in 2008.

"I never said that publicly," he said. "What I did say is that after my current term I'd have enough points for retirement. There's a lot to do and that's why I decided to run again. Now I've got four more years and I'm looking forward to that."

Femling, a Republican who has been Blaine County's sheriff for 20 years, received 6,425 votes, or 63 percent, in Tuesday's election to easily outdistance independent opponent Steve England, who received 3,678 votes, or 37 percent.

While the election is now over, Femling's feelings toward England, a lieutenant with the Hailey Police Department, still smolder.

"Steve made this personal," Femling said. "Law enforcement is about trust—him specifically. He certainly blew up some bridges with my people. They don't trust him now.

"My people aren't necessarily upset at Hailey PD," Femling said. "There upset at Steve England and he's going to have to work that out with them."

Femling accused England of running a "negative campaign" that ultimately backfired on the challenger.

"We're a small county, and people know," the sheriff said. "So you can't talk about people and lie like that because it won't work."

England made no apologies for his campaign tactics.

"I don't believe I made it personal," England said. "I brought things up that I thought he needed to improve. If he's bitter, that's up to him.

"I'm still more than willing to work with him," England said. "It was just an election—a man against a man—not a department against a department."

England said he believes he can still work effectively with the sheriff's office.

"The things I brought up were a reflection on him and had nothing to do with the department," England said.

As for the future, England said he'll likely run for sheriff again in four years.

"I'm ready to give it another shot," he said. "Why not? I'm young and energetic and more than willing to give it another try."

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