Glenwood attorney files petition to recall Truden
As a recall petition made its way to the secretary of state’s office Tuesday, a former prosecutor under District Attorney Colleen Truden said he would tell 9th Judicial District residents why he wants to take her place.
Martin Beeson, a former deputy district attorney who heavily criticized Truden after resigning from her office, is the only candidate to emerge so far. He said he expects a tough battle against his former boss.
“Given her comments in the (Aspen Times Weekly) that she’ll do whatever it takes to stay in office, I think it’s going to be a hard fight,” he said.
Sherry Caloia, a Glenwood Springs attorney and town prosecutor in Basalt and Carbondale, filed the recall petition. It lists six allegations against Truden, starting with dishonesty. The petition also says there has not been a single felony trial in the six months since she took office.
“There’s no action, there are no trials and that is so unusual. It’s especially unusual if you tout yourself as tough on crime,” Caloia said.
Truden did not return a call seeking comment, but she has said she plans on fighting the recall effort. The former municipal court judge was elected last August after defeating then Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills in the primary election; there was no Democratic challenger.
It will take 5,455 signatures to force an election. Convincing voters in Republican-heavy Garfield and Rio Blanco counties to recall the district attorney will be a daunting task.
“I don’t know whether there’ll be a lack of support in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. As candidates, it’ll be up to us to go up to Rio Blanco County to talk to the folks and talk to the folks here in Garfield County,” said Beeson, a Republican.
Two people Beeson said he has heard may join the race are Aspen defense lawyer Chip McCrory and Glenwood Springs lawyer Jonathan Shamis. They did not return messages Tuesday.
“I don’t know what the degree of consideration is that they’ve given to it. But it’s the democratic process (and) I welcome them into the process,” Beeson said. “I welcome the chance to compete in a gentlemanly and professional way against them for an office that is very important.”
Asked if he would be having town hall-type meetings or would go door to door, he said, “I haven’t figured that out yet. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m not a politician. But I do intend to meet with as many people as possible and I’ll do it anyway that I can.”
Both Beeson and Caloia said there is no shortage of recall proponents. Caloia said 50 people have volunteered to collect signatures, some from outside the Roaring Fork Valley.
“I’ve had some people call me from Rio Blanco County, and they are disgruntled, as well, and have indicated that they will circulate a petition for me,” she said. “In Garfield County certainly there are a lot of people who have called me.”
Camilla Auger, chairwoman of the Pitkin County Democratic Party, said party officials haven’t considered getting involved in the recall process.
“There is nothing normal about this situation. Everyone is concerned and everyone wants the office to do well,” she said.
Auger said she didn’t know whether the party would get involved at a later date. “But everyone, of course, has been following it as a citizen.”
The petition lists Caloia, former Deputy District Attorney Jeff Cheney and former legal assistant Carol Koris as members of the recall committee.
Along with charges of dishonesty and lack of prosecutions, the petition’s other allegations against Truden are wasting taxpayer money, lying about hiring her husband and paying him $1,000 a week, mismanagement resulting in a dramatic loss of experienced prosecutors and leaving the office understaffed and ineffective, lack of accountability and failing to provide honest answers to the public about the operations and finances of the office despite campaign promise to maintain an “open door.”
Dana Williams, spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said the state has 48 hours to certify or reject the petition.
“The law’s pretty specific about what is required. There’s certain language that has to be there,” she said. “We will either approve it and say that they can go ahead and circulate the petition, or disapprove it and tell them they can resubmit.”
Saying he doesn’t feel any pressure, Beeson said he is looking forward to the campaign.
“I don’t have anything to lose by giving the people a viable alternative to what I believe is a disaster in the district attorney’s office. I’m just going to go out and do my best and let the people make their statement,” he said. “She’s got to be held accountable.
“Even if she refuses to hold herself accountable, somebody’s got to hold her accountable, and I hope that the electorate will do that.”
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