Aaron Appelhans Becomes Wyoming’s First Elected Black Sheriff With Close Win In Albany County

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By Mark Heinz, Outdoors Reporter

Albany County Sheriff Aaron Appelhans, a Laramie Democrat, made Wyoming political history Tuesday by becoming the state’s first elected black sheriff.

With all but mail-in and absentee ballots counted, Republican challenger Joel Senior held a 153-vote lead over Appelhans, but after those votes were tallied Appelhans had more than made up the difference with an unofficial 6,549 votes to Senior’s 6,023. 

Appelhans will remain at the helm of an office that continues to struggle with its public image. 

The sheriff’s office’s recent troubles began with the fatal shooting of Laramie resident Robbie Ramirez by then-deputy Derek Colling in November 2018. Its reputation was further dinged by three deaths in the Albany County Jail since 2020.

Appelhans had previously worked for the University of Wyoming Police Department and was appointed sheriff in 2020 after the previous sheriff, Dave O’Malley, retired under public pressure in the wake of the Ramirez shooting. 

Senior served for 19 years with the Laramie Police Department and now works as the criminal investigator for the Wyoming Livestock Board.  

Senior ran on a platform of promising to improve deputy training and public service at the sheriff’s office. Appelhans campaigned on the assertion that he has the office on the right track, touting such successes as bringing its budget from a roughly $160,000 deficit to millions in the black. 

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