Cancer survivor back in race for Mesa County sheriff

By Ron Bain (Editor of Western Slope Watchdog, republished by permission)

GRAND JUNCTION – Cancer survivor John Pennington – who ended his bid to become Mesa County’s sheriff last year to contend with the disease – is back in the race, challenging current State Senator Steve King for the Republican nomination.

“A politician I’m not, but you have to have a little courage and face what’s going on in our country,” said Pennington, who takes issue with King’s legislation that gave the Secret Service and other federal agencies police power in Colorado.

Pennington, a former U.S. Marine guard, observed that King scored an “F” in the Principles of Liberty group’s rating of state legislators.

“Steve King has demonstrated on several occasions that he’s sort of a big government shill, he’s kind of a sell-out,” Pennington said. “Very authoritarian – I think he would fall right into the militarization of our local police forces and sheriff’s offices as if he was putting on a hat.”

With a three-term limit on the sheriff’s office, King will be sheriff for 12 years if he gets elected, he predicted.

Pennington is opposed to many aspects of the federal government’s policies, including the war on drugs.

“It’s done nothing but create a black market and bring unsavory individuals into our communities,” Pennington said. “We’ve got more agencies and more agents.”

King, on the other hand, introduced four separate unsuccessful bills into the state legislature to put severe limits on driving under the influence of THC, something that the voters of Colorado enacted with Amendment 64.

Pennington said he believes he can get 30 percent of the delegate votes at the March 22 county assembly, which will place him on the primary ballot with King. He spoke to many of those GOP delegates at the county caucus, he said, and got an overall favorable response.

“They do respond to the talk about liberty and a return to Constitutional principles,” Pennington said.

Law enforcement “has gotten away from the community, to protect and serve, to outside the community to harass and convict,” he said. “I don’t feel particularly protected or served when we have these militarized machines of war driving around in our streets. I don’t see any Soviet troops or Chinese troops that are armed moving in on us.”

Mesa County sheriff’s deputies have better things to do with their time than write speeding tickets, Pennington said.

“It’s an indirect tax,” he said. “I don’t know where that money goes. I don’t think that’s the purview of the sheriff’s office.”

Other than his experience as a Marine guard protecting the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, Pennington does not have law enforcement experience. He’s a former social worker who now makes his living as a freelance driller in Colorado’s oil fields. He would be taking a pay cut to become sheriff.

“I’ve never chased any crooks down dark holes,” he said. “I give you both houses of Congress as an example of too much experience.”

Pennington said he would operate the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office from a Constitutional perspective, comparing his stance to that of the Constitutional/Oath Keepers sheriff movement started by former Sheriff Richard Mack of Graham County, Ariz.

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