GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - The race between sitting District Attorney Martin Beeson and his challenger, Sherry Caloia, remained near a dead heat Tuesday night, as the two fought for the position of chief prosecutor in Colorado's 9th Judicial District.
According to unofficial election results, with all precincts in Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties reporting, Caloia held a 159-vote lead, with 17,182 votes, or 50.3 percent of the total. Beeson had 17,023 votes, or 49.7 percent.
Beeson drew the bulk of his support from Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, while Caloia bested Beeson by a margin of nearly two-to-one in Pitkin County.
Speaking at a Democratic gathering across town, Caloia said she had run her campaign honestly and was content with the result.
"My gauge for myself is whether I'm being true to my beliefs, and I've done that," she said.
During the race, Caloia repeatedly accused Beeson of having an overly punitive and heavy-handed approach when pressing charges against a defendant, a practice she said in the pages of the Post Independent "has clogged the dockets of the 9th Judicial District."
Caloia, currently a civil litigator and formerly a prosecutor for the towns of Carbondale and Basalt, pledged during the campaign that she would take a more nuanced approach to pressing charges. She also said she would communicate more with defense attorneys than Beeson had during his first term.
Caloia had also criticized Beeson for nearly tripling his department's budget, a claim she said made him a poor steward of taxpayer money.
Beeson, however, repeatedly accused Caloia of being inexperienced and soft on crime.
"I think the main issue here was lack of experience and know-how," said Beeson, speaking at a GOP gathering in Glenwood Springs on election night. Beeson was formally elected in 2008. Before that served in the post for three years, after being appointed to replace former DA Colleen Truden, who was recalled by district voters.
Asked what he thought was at stake in this election, Beeson referenced the upcoming murder case of Marcus Bebb Jones, a British citizen accused of murding his wife in 1997 and dumping her body in a remote part of Garfield County.
"If I were to lose, I fear that this woman's family would not get the justice they deserve," Beeson said. "I don't think my opponent would be qualified to try this case."
Beeson said he was pleased with his campaign.
"We raised the money we needed, and kept our powder dry until October. We used the lion's share of our funds on direct mail to unaffiliated voters. I also took advantage of some of the more ill-conceived statements from my opponent," Beeson added.
If her victory stands, Caloia pledged that she would continue fighting for a more moderate approach.
"I think a lot of people are unhappy with [Beeson's] philosophy, and his hard stance doesn't take the reality of cases into account," she said.