SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder, who is also chief of the Unified Police Department, will remain sheriff for another four years after a convincing victory Tuesday night.
Winder, a Democrat, defeated his former undersheriff, Cottonwood Heights police officer Beau Babka, 57 percent to 43 percent, according to final but unofficial results.
"We're going to get back to the business of running the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Unified Police Department," Winder said Tuesday night, adding that he was very excited with the results. "There will be a lot of challenges ahead ... but we're going to focus on the future here very quickly."
For Babka, a Republican, the defeat marks his second failed attempt at becoming the county's top law enforcer. He was defeated in 2002 by Aaron Kennard.
Babka could not be reached for comment early Tuesday evening.
Winder ran his campaign for a second term by listing among his accomplishments the formation of the Unified Police Department, the reopening of the Oxbow Jail and maintaining the level of protection the community expects even after being forced to cut $14 million from his budget.
One of the big issues that surfaced during the campaign was the controversial Salt Lake County public safety fee, which many people believed was the result of the formation of the new UPD.
Winder, who was an outspoken opponent of the fee from the beginning, worked before and during his campaign to make sure the public understood he was not responsible for it and that he did not have the power to levy taxes or impose a fee.
Just a week before the election, Winder held a news conference, demanding a retraction and an apology for a radio ad from Babka that claimed Winder was, in fact, responsible for the fee.
During his next term as sheriff, Winder said jail overcrowding would continue to be an important issue. He says he wants to implement more programs to help rehabilitate inmates from reoffending, rather than warehousing them until their next arrest.