Wednesday, April 11, 2012

3 file in race for sheriff’s post

Ramsey, Clark and England competing to become top county’s cop


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Three veteran Blaine County law enforcement officers have filed to compete for the position of county sheriff.

Incumbent Sheriff Gene Ramsey will square off against Bellevue Marshal Larry Clark, both Republicans, in the May 15 primary election. Hailey police Lt. Steve England filed as an independent and is already guaranteed a place on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election.

Under a new Idaho law, only registered Republicans can vote on the Republican ticket in the primary election. But Idaho code further provides that voters can register as Republicans on the day of an election.

The same rule does not apply to the Democratic Party, which has opted through notification to the Idaho secretary of state that it will allow non-affiliated electors to vote on the Democratic ticket. It's sort of a moot point for the next primary election, though, since there are no contested races on the Democratic ticket in Blaine County.

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Ramsey and Clark have competed before for the post of sheriff. Both men were finalists for appointment to the job by Blaine County commissioners after former Sheriff Walt Femling retired in 2011.

Ramsey has served with the Sheriff's Office for 31 years, with most of his time spent as Femling's chief deputy. He has held the post of sheriff since February 2011.

Clark, who has nine years law enforcement experience, was a Hailey police patrolman when he filed to be Femling's replacement. Since that time, the Hailey Police Department has taken over the contract to provide police services for the city of Bellevue, and Clark was appointed in October as city marshal.

England, with 14 years police experience, is not a newcomer to politics. This is his fourth attempt to become county sheriff. He ran unsuccessfully against Femling as a Republican in 2004 and unsuccessfully against him again as an independent in 2008.

England was one of eight candidates who filed with the Blaine County Central Republican Committee in 2011 to replace Femling, but was not selected by the committee as one of the three final candidates. The final three, Ramsey, Clark and former Texas lawman Phil English, were interviewed by Blaine County commissioners before they selected Ramsey as sheriff.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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