Jeff Cheney wins 9th District DA race
With about 45 percent of the votes, Jeff Cheney was elected the 9th Judicial District attorney in Tuesday’s election.
This DA election was a three-way race with incumbent Democrat Sherry Caloia running for her second term against the Republican Cheney and independent Chip McCrory. Both of her opponents had experience as prosecutors in the 9th Judicial District.
At 10 p.m., Cheney led with 14,557 votes; Caloia was second with 11,516; McCrory had 5,804.
“I feel blessed and thankful to have run against two good opponents and to have run a positive campaign,” said Cheney. “I never criticized anyone about not having a job or the type of job they did.”
Cheney said he intends to fulfill his campaign pledges and run the DA’s office reflect the wills of the county’s differing perspectives.
His campaign did well in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. Cheney didn’t fare as well in Pitkin County, where he came in third. Caloia’s votes nearly doubled Cheney’s in Pitkin County.
Cheney said the win feels good, but he recognized that many people in the district did not vote for him. He said he intends to work hard to earn those people’s respect.
In the months leading up to November, election-year tensions sometimes sprouted up in the operations of the DA and Garfield County law enforcement agencies. Through much of the year Caloia has been under attack by Republicans in law enforcement who complained of her approach to plea bargaining and her high bar for approving search and arrest warrants.
Caloia said she was asked to run in 2012 to clean up an overly aggressive DA’s office led by Martin Beeson, in which Cheney was an assistant. She stuck to the strategy that won her first election: maintaining strict standards of evidence and rejecting cases she doesn’t believe can be proved in court.
Her opponents also attacked Caloia’s style of micromanagement, and blamed her for a high turnover rate at the DA’s office.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario was a vocal critic of the DA and a supporter of Cheney’s, as were many other leaders in Garfield County law enforcement, including Rob Glassmire, the county coroner. Caloia briefly booted Glassmire out of the director’s position on the judicial district’s sexual assault response team after he said he was supporting Cheney in the DA’s race.
McCrory and Cheney said that a better relationship and better communication with local law enforcement would be critical to improving the DA’s office.
Cheney said he was running on leadership, experience and integrity, often invoking his career in the U.S. Army as an enlisted man and later an officer as foundational to these principles. That foundation of leadership would run deep enough to prompt Cheney to prosecute some cases himself, he said. He also called upon his 10 years as a prosecutor, but that time also drew criticism from both his opponents.
Cheney said the community does not need him to act as another defense attorney benefiting the accused.
Both McCrory and Caloia said a win for Cheney would effectively be a return of this style of prosecution. Cheney put some distance between himself and his former boss, pointing out his own disagreements with Beeson and saying that the former DA’s decisions hold no bearing on how he would run the office. He also vowed he would not hire Beeson for a role in the office.
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