The Gerbil: New sheriff in town? Woody is challenging Sheriff Bill in 2010

Woody, the retired actor known for his roles in the ‘Toy Story’ film series, works the crowd during a recent visit to the island. - Scott Rasmussen
Woody, the retired actor known for his roles in the ‘Toy Story’ film series, works the crowd during a recent visit to the island.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

Throwing the door open on a new career, Woody — the congenial, though sometimes conflicted, cowboy of “Toy Story” movie fame — last week announced he will run for San Juan County sheriff in 2010.

“I’ve got proven problem-solving skills and a knack for getting things done,” said Woody, who goes by the single name by which he’s commonly known.

“With me in charge, you can always count on a happy ending. And everyone can use one of those.”

The hurdles, however, could be high for the would-be celebrity sheriff in his first-ever campaign for elected office. Though he’s the

first candidate to file for the November 2010 election, Woody’s opponents will likely include long-time county Sheriff Bill Cumming, the incumbent.

At this point, local political insiders are calling a head-to-head race between Cumming and Woody a toss up.

“Bill definitely has the experience, the track record and home-field advantage,” said Scott Boye, a veteran of local political campaigns. “And though he may be fictional, Woody is energetic, animated and he’ll have big bucks behind him.”

Moreover, Boye noted, “Toy Story 3” is in development and due for release in June 2010. The film could put Woody over the top if the film’s a hit or it spawns a catchy phrase or two, he said.

“If the film flops it could come back to bite him,” Boye said. “If it’s a hit, like the first two were, game over.”

Cumming said Woody’s résumé pales in comparison to his own extensive law enforcement experience.

“I’m as much a ‘Woody fan’ as the next guy,” he said. “But let’s face it, the guy lacks substance. Woody dresses like a sheriff, but what is his law enforcement experience? Leader of the toys in Andy’s room?”

Cumming then made the first political jab of the 2010 campaign: “I think it was Buzz Lightyear who called Woody a ‘sad, strange little man.’ ”

Unopposed in the 2006 election, Cumming has been elected to six consecutive four-year terms. He has 40 years in the criminal justice field, including 17 years as a probation officer, and 23 years as county sheriff.

If he decides to seek a seventh term, Cumming said he won’t take Woody’s campaign lightly. He said Woody stands to benefit from name recognition and Tinseltown ties.

“Name familiarity, a big bankroll, voice-over by Tom Hanks — you bet Woody’s a real contender,” Cumming said. “If I do run, I’m going to have to bring my A-game.”

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