Recall: Truden out, Beeson in
In a historic recall election, 9th Judicial District Attorney Colleen Truden has become the first DA to be unseated in Colorado. The district includes Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.Only one former prosecutor has faced a recall election, Pueblo DA Joe Losavio, who survived the challenge in 1978. According to unofficial results, voters in Garfield and Pitkin counties called overwhelmingly for Truden’s ouster. A total of 4,526 votes supported the recall in Garfield County, with 1,288 against. In Pitkin County, the recall passed by an even wider margin, 2,039 to 112.The recall was voted down in Rio Blanco County, 278 votes to 169, according to unofficial results.Vying for Truden’s seat were former deputy district attorneys Martin Beeson and Chip McCrory. Beeson won handily over McCrory, 3,999 votes to 2,327, also according to unofficial results. McCrory failed to gather the requisite signatures to have his name appear on the ballot and was a write-in candidate.However, McCrory beat out Beeson in Pitkin County, 947 votes to Beeson’s 926.Despite a day of snowy weather in Garfield County, 5,828 ballots were cast in eight precincts in Garfield County. The ballots were counted and unofficial results published about 11:30 p.m.Pitkin County tallied 2,151 ballots and Rio Blanco County 447.Truden was elected district attorney in 2004, beating out fellow Republican Lawson Wills in a primary election. Wills was then assistant district attorney under DA Mac Myers, who had reached term limitation.During the run-up to the primary in August 2004, Wills and his supporters criticized Truden for lacking prosecution experience. Truden countered that she would bring much needed administrative expertise to the job gained from her years as a municipal judge in Glenwood Springs.Trouble in the DA’s office began in April when two deputy district attorneys – Martin Beeson and Jeff Cheney – quit. Three others followed, as well as a number of support staff. The attorneys all said that despite being willing to stay on until replacements were found, they were summarily escorted from the office the day they tendered their resignations. Two additional attorneys, Katie Steers and Tony Hershey, were hired by Truden to fill the open positions, and subsequently quit. Steers has brought an ethics complaint against Truden, and Hershey is also suing Truden for allegedly forcing him from his position.Truden also came under fire for hiring her husband, Fred, for computer work in the early days of her tenure. Under questioning by county commissioners in Garfield and Pitkin counties, Truden said her husband was not on the payroll. She later said he was hired to perform computer consulting work when she was first setting up her office.Garfield County Commissioners took Truden to task in May for overspending her annual budget. Garfield pays the lion’s share, about 60 percent, of the 9th Judicial District’s budget.Truden said when she took office in January 2005 she found a number of unpaid bills left over from the previous administration.Truden was not available for comment Tuesday.From his election headquarters at the Riviera restaurant in Glenwood Springs Tuesday, Beeson said he was elated with the outcome of the recall election.”I’m relieved, hopeful and happy for the district,” he said. “It’s been a long, tough, six to eight months and tough on the people of the district.”Beeson said he would be open and honest with the people of the 9th Judicial District.”I’m going to be straightforward with the public and as transparent as an office can be.”Wills, who supported Beeson and was with him Tuesday night, said he would not go back to the DA’s office if asked. “I feel confident (the office) is in the hands of people who can do the job,” he said.Cheney, who is a close friend of Beeson’s, and who Beeson hoped to bring back to the office, said he would not return. “I’m not a disgruntled employee looking to get my job back,” he said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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