GOLDEN — The race for the new Jefferson County Sheriff may come down to one major difference, the two candidates’ positions on the Second Amendment and local gun rights restrictions.
Outgoing Republican Sheriff Jeff Shrader, a strong supporter of gun rights, has passed on one of his own deputies and thrown his endorsement behind Arvada Police Deputy Chief Ed Brady, while the endorsements coming in for Brady’s Democrat opponent, Jefferson County Sheriff Lt. Regina Marinelli, have a decidedly different flair.
“Reggie will be ready on day one to partner with Edgewater and our surrounding communities in taking a comprehensive and holistic approach to community and public safety and crime prevention,” said Edgewater City Councilwoman Hanna Gay Keao in her endorsement of Marinelli.
Gay Keao is the outspoken Mom’s Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety endorsed councilwoman who proposed a laundry list of new gun rights restrictions for her own community, but eventually watched them be scaled back to a single ban on open carry of a firearm after residents of Edgewater pushed back.
Gay Keao has also been working with Boulder to bring tighter gun restrictions to other Boulder County communities, as well as surrounding areas.
However, Marinelli’s position on gun rights restrictions for her constituents doesn’t end with Gay Keao. She has also been endorsed by Colorado Ceasefire, the organization pushing the efforts to enact numerous gun restrictions across the state; it is led partially by Tom Mauser, whose son was killed at Columbine High School more than 20 years ago.
Additionally, she has endorsements from far-left state representatives Monica Duran, Brianna Titone, Chris Kennedy and Lisa Cutter along with former state legislators and now Jefferson County Commissioners Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Andy Kerr.
Marinelli takes much different position on other gun rights issues within Jefferson County than Shrader, including on the possibility of banning weapons in Jeffco open space.
In 2021, the Foothills Parks and Recreation District considered banning concealed carry in all its parks. However, Shrader told the board his office would not enforce such a ban, as it carries only a civil penalty under a new state law that allows special districts to pass such bans.
Senate Bill 21-256 unwound decades of state preemption, allowing local governments to enact gun control laws within their jurisdiction, but only if they are more restrictive than those at the state level.
“I have substantial concern in taking action against an individual who is otherwise acting in a legal and proper manner,” Shrader said at the time.
FPRD eventually dropped the idea after significant push back from the public, but Marinelli sees it differently.
She told the Jeffco Transcript that if “JeffCo Open Space, or any other district, chooses to prohibit concealed weapons within their boundaries, we will respect their right to do so and enforce the law as it is written.”
The differences between Marinelli and Brady spills over into their campaign finance reports, as well.
Marinelli has raised slightly more than $45,000 while Brady has deposited more than double that at $107,000 through the end of July. Their next report isn’t due until Oct. 18.
Brady is endorsed by a long list of law enforcement leaders including current and retired police chiefs, sheriffs and other high-ranking officers from Arvada, Westminster, Lakewood, Jefferson County, Weld County, Gilpin County, and Arapahoe County, including former 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler.
Frank Deangelis, who was principal at Columbine High School at the time of the mass-shooting there, has also endorsed Brady.
On his campaign website, Brady states, “As Sheriff, I will stand for freedom and our Constitutional liberties, including the rights of people to protect themselves.”
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