Fox announces run for sheriff

Former cop would be first female sheriff in Montezuma County

Diane Fox, a cancer survivor and mother of three, has thrown her hat into the ring to become the next Montezuma County sheriff.

If elected, Fox would become the first female sheriff in Montezuma County.

“It’s 2014,” she proclaimed. “We need more women in leadership. We need more trailblazers.”

A Republican candidate, Fox told The Cortez Journal this week that many elected officials, friends and colleagues have encouraged her to seek the post as the county’s top law woman. It’s a decision she’s wrestled with for weeks, said Fox.

“This is what I’m supposed to do,” she said.

After a 20-year career with the Cortez Police Department, Fox retired last spring after successfully beating breast cancer. During her fight with the disease, Fox became septic after a chemotherapy treatment, hospitalizing her for 40 days. She was in intensive care for 10 days.

“I was perched on the brink of death,” Fox said.

Fox said her cancer battle changed her outlook on life, and every moment she is blessed with in the future is gravy. Today, Fox is cancer-free, and getting healthier every day, she said.

“Cancer changed me for the better, but I’m still a pretty tough chick,” she said. “You never know how strong you are until strength is all you have.”

Her father, Don Davis, who served four terms as a Rio Blanco County Commissioner, taught Fox that serving your fellow man was the best and most rewarding profession.

“I know public service,” Fox said. “I bring a strong voice and know how to build relationships. I will serve all the people.”

In addition to support, Fox said she also opted to seek the sheriff’s seat, because “things are not good” under current Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell’s administration. She cited his agency has experienced a growing turnover rate, and records confirm nearly 30 deputies and jailors have either resigned, retired or were terminated from the sheriff’s office since 2012.

“The county deserves better law enforcement,” Fox proclaimed. “We need a sheriff that will serve all the people with common sense and decency. That’s the key to success.”

Fox said Spruell has also failed to accept responsibility for his agency’s own shortcomings, specifically the ongoing public corruption trial of former undersheriff Robin Cronk. Forced to resign, Cronk faces 17 counts of embezzlement for allegedly pilfering $7,500 from taxpayers.

“We need accountability from the top down, and that accountability starts and ends at the top,” Fox said.

At the Cortez Police Department, Fox said she served in multiple divisions, including patrol, records, investigations and even dispatch. The lone area she doesn’t have experience is animal control, she admitted.

At the start of her municipal police career in 1993, Fox had to endure wearing little boys boots and a man’s bulletproof vest, because tactical gear for women had yet to be manufactured. The lack of appropriate gear, however, never stopped her, and she’s most proud of helping to establish the area’s school resource officers program. In 2013, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Association of School Resource Officers.

“I’ve always told ladies that I’ve worked with that you’re never going to be a man, so don’t act like one,” Fox said.

As a woman and mother, Fox believes she would bring more compassion and better communication to the sheriff’s post. That female perspective and intuition leads to greater nurturing and caring, and ultimately, better law enforcement, she said.

“Usually people come in contact with law enforcement maybe once or twice in their lifetime,” Fox said. “You have to treat them how you’d want your mom to be treated.”

Born and raised in Rangely, Colo., Fox has resided in Cortez since 1992 with her husband and former U.S. Marine Ray Fox. She received an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Colorado Northwest Community College in 1989, despite being a single mother at the time.

Fox currently serves on the Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 school board.

Retired Colorado State Patrol trooper Steve Nowlin has announced he also will run against Spruell, the incumbent, in the November election. Nowlin and Spruell are also Republican candidates.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com