Sparks fly as DA candidates debate |

Sparks fly as DA candidates debate

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson Republican candidate for 9th Judicial District Attorney Colleen Truden answers a question during Wednesday night's debate as fellow candidate H. Lawson Wills looks on.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Prosecution experience, police relations and the proper role of a district attorney were the dominant issues discussed at Wednesday’s district attorney election forum. H. Lawson Wills, currently the assistant district attorney for the 9th Judicial District, hammered on the lack of prosecution experience of his opponent, Glenwood Springs attorney Colleen Truden. Truden fought back by impuning current District Attorney Mac Myers’ allegedly poor relationship with area law enforcement personnel. Wills said his first priority would be to repair that relationship. “I have a good relationship with law enforcement. I don’t have to start there,” Truden said.

The two also disagreed on the proper role of a district attorney. Wills said the district attorney should be a prosecutor 80 percent of the time and an administrator 20 percent. Truden said she plans to spend the majority of her time as a manager and do little actual trial work. “This election is a defining moment,” Wills said. “The choice of whether you’re going to elect someone who has been in the trenches … or someone who has zero experience.”At one point, Truden attacked Wills’ plan to use the district attorney’s office in a “gatekeeper” role. “If you have a DA who bows to the will of a police department, that eliminates that check and balance and we all lose,” Wills said. Truden responded by saying Wills’ statement underscores his understanding of the police officers in the district.

“I don’t know any police who want a DA who doesn’t have a spine,” she said. The Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team also came up. Both candidates said they would support a well-run undercover drug team, but Wills said he agrees with Myers’ decision to pull the district attorney’s office out of TRIDENT. “As they existed before and the tactics going on, I’m not in support of that type of law enforcement,” Wills said. The two also differed on TRIDENT’s philosophy. Wills said he’s like to see the agency concentrate on large drug dealers, saying two large busts a year would contribute more to getting drugs off the streets than a series of small busts. Truden said she’s satisfied with TRIDENT’s current strategy, where many of its busts are small.On the issue of experience, Wills said he doesn’t know of anybody in the district who has tried more cases than him. He listed several cases he has recently prosecuted.

“Everything depends on our ability in this office,” he said. Truden said she had been involved in two jury trials. “I’m not going to quote you or cite you a string of trials; you don’t need that to be D.A.,” she said.Glenwood Springs attorney Charles H. Willman moderated the forum. The primary election is on Tuesday, Aug. 10. Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext.

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