Terry ‘I’m still sheriff’ Maketa denies making handoff difficult for successor

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa survived a recall effort waged against him earlier this summer and is set to ride out his term, unless, as he said in an interview Saturday, he decides to preemptively resign. “I am still Sheriff,” he told KKTV’s Betty Sexton. “The recall failed and I will be here until January, unless I decide to leave sooner.”

The effort to oust Maketa arose in the wake of allegations that he slept with women in the office, promoted them to positions they were unqualified for, removed oversight from the department’s budgetary process and generally created a hostile work environment. Recall organizers ultimately felt they didn’t have a significant enough buffer over the number of required signatures to justify submitting the petition for the costly verification process. Leader of the effort Randy Stagner said in July that despite the recall’s failure, “voters still brought a very strong and loud message that they want [Maketa] out.” Outcry surrounding the scandal also led to a unanimous vote of no confidence by the El Paso County Commission.

Now, allegations that Maketa is setting up his successor, Bill Elder, to fail are swirling around local media. His accusers contend Maketa is purposefully over-hiring right now so that Elder will be forced to make unpopular layoffs as soon as he takes office.

Sheriff Maketa, in his first interview since the scandal, denied that he’s trying to set Elder up. “I have 27 years of my adult life invested in this organization. The last thing I would ever want to do is see it fail.”

Elder spoke to KKTV by phone, saying “[Maketa] doesn’t respect me. And that’s his prerogative.” In describing the passing of the torch, he said, “It’s not a warm treatment. It’s not a transitional treatment. No input whatsoever.”

Elder is running unopposed, set to take office in January (if not sooner, apparently.)

photo by tableatny via Flickr