Jul 26, 2010 2:05 PM by Greg Boyce

Sheriff candidate debate set for tonight

The two Republican candidates for El Paso County sheriff will meet in a debate cosponsored by The Gazette and KOAA-TV News First 5.

Sheriff Terry Maketa, who is seeking a third term as the county's top law officer, and Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk, will present their platforms and answer questions during an hour-long televised debate on Monday, July 26 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Sand Creek Library, 1821 S. Academy Blvd.

The debate is open to the public and the library meeting room can accommodate an audience of about 75 people.

Early voting for the Aug. 10 primary is already underway.

Each of the candidates will have three minutes to present an opening statement, followed by questions from the panel of print and broadcast reporters. Maketa and Shirk each will have two minutes to respond followed by a 60-second rebuttal. Follow-up questions may be asked at the discretion of the moderator, news anchor Rob Quirk.

The moderator will select additional questions from the public submitted prior to the debate. Questions should be sent to and The audience may have a chance to ask questions after the broadcast.

The debate will conclude with a one minute closing statement by each candidate.

The race so far has see-sawed between a civil discussion of increasing patrols in unincorporated communities and bursts of accusations over the candidates' qualifications and alleged campaign violations.

Shirk, a longtime Aurora police officer, has pledged to increase patrols by 20 percent without raising taxes, a vow Maketa has discounted as amounting to one or two additional deputies on the road at any given time.

Maketa's campaign has released information that Shirk is under investigation for violating the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activities of federal employees. State and local government employees' political activities also can be curtailed if their work includes programs funded by federal loans or grants.

Shirk's campaign has dismissed the accusation as frivolous and predicted it would backfire on Maketa.

Shirk had challenged Maketa to four debates in the lead-up to the primary, but the only mutual appearances by the candidates so far has been at informal Republican gatherings.

The debate will air live on News First Now tonight from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday, July 27 through Saturday July 31 from 7 - 8 p.m.  News First Now can be seen on digital channel 5-2 as well Comcast Channel 9 in Colorado Springs and 247 in Pueblo.





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