Odis Sikes, the unaffiliated candidate running against Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin, touts Constitutional values, tough-on-crime policies and community relationships.
Sikes has lived in Montezuma County since the late 1980s, but only considered running for sheriff early last year.
He said he was hesitant to run but began to consider it after encouragement from J. Fargo’s manager and Montezuma County Patriots Freedom Rides leader Tiffany Gray (formerly Tiffany Ghere) and other members of the community.
“I said, ‘Let me pray about it, and let me think about it,’ because I’m definitely not going to do this if I didn’t pray about it,” Sikes said.
Gray said she and Sikes shared beliefs about the Constitution.
“We share the common belief that our Constitution was bought and paid for by blood; it was not given to us by our government, therefore cannot be taken away from us by our government,” Gray said. “Given the position and authority that the sheriff’s position has, we need someone who’s strong and stands on the Constitution.”
When asked why he decided to run for sheriff, Sikes said, “I’m not a politician. We don’t need a politician, and I’ve never been in law enforcement, so I’m not a cop. I don’t think like a cop. I think like you think.”
While Sikes, 72, doesn’t have experience in the police or sheriff’s department, he spoke of his combat experience in the Army’s 1st Infantry Division during the Vietnam War in 1968 and 1969.
Sikes referenced the Constitution often, and said its principals, which he believes were faith-based, would guide his decisions.
“I believe the Constitution was faith-based, and like the Founding Fathers, I believe our rights are God-given rights, and the Constitution is based on that. The Constitution protects our God-given rights,” he said.
The government, Sikes said, should never come before the Constitution.
“I would like to see law enforcement in Montezuma County, not just the sheriff’s department – Mancos, Cortez Police Department – I would like to see them start putting the Constitution first. Colorado laws like the red flag law are totally unconstitutional. Well, I’m not going to obey that number one, and number two, I’m not going to enforce it,” Sikes said.
“Some people just take that ‘Well, the government said.’ No, what did the Constitution say,” he added.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sikes said, Gov. Jared Polis’ shutdown orders should have been sent back to him with a copy of the Constitution. Sikes said the government shouldn’t have a say in whether businesses and churches can keep their doors open.
“The Fifth Amendment and the 14th Amendment say we shall not be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law, he said.
Sikes also said he would tackle drug trafficking.
“I’d really like to see them (deputies) more aggressive on drugs,” he said. “It needs to be stopped coming in, and it needs to be kicked out. I don’t see anyone trying to stop drugs from coming in.”
With the increase of fentanyl smuggling, Sikes says he would want drug traffickers to be terrified to step foot in Montezuma County, and he would want the Sheriff’s Office to have more of a plan than, “If you see something, say something.”
“Why is there not someone in Montezuma County that they fear?” Sikes asked. “Somebody ought to scare the hell out of them.”
Along with working on his campaign, Sikes has faced reports from news reporters stating that he suggested that transgenders and drag queens should go to jail.
In an article published by Rocky Mountain PBS, Sikes was quoted as saying that the Montezuma County sheriff should have arrested a drag queen “set to read stories to children at a local library.”
“I think the sheriff should’ve gone in there and said, ‘You need to get out of this county and never come back or you’re going to jail,’’' Sikes said at a meet-and-greet. “It’s child abuse, and they wanted that at our library.”
Sikes maintains that the news organization made up the claim.
“They just made that up,” he told The Journal. “I am not anti-gay. I don’t agree with that lifestyle, I don’t agree with transgenders and all that, but I said, they have a Constitution too. Their rights are protected just like mine are protected, however, they don’t have the right to force that on someone else.”
“If a parent has knowledge of (a drag queen reading to children in the library), and gives permission for that, that’s their business … but if these people put this on for children, and their parents have no knowledge of it, I’d put them in jail,” he continued, referring to the PBS article.
He said he is against critical race theory as well, but never said he would arrest teachers who taught it, countering a concern raised by a parent quoted in the PBS article.
He also said during the meet-and-greet that he would attend school board meetings.
“I think we ought to show up and say, ‘Look, that's junk. I’m not going to teach that to our kids,’“ he said.
Sikes said he hopes he could help build trust between the people of Cortez and the sheriff and his deputies, and see the Sheriff’s Office develop relationships with students by teaching a Constitution class.
“I think maybe once a month or so a deputy or even the sheriff themselves should … maybe give a class, because the Constitution is not taught to people. That’s one of the main reasons we went through these last two years, is that people don’t know their rights,” Sikes said.
The election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.