Truden recall organizers feel hopeful about petition
With about 48 hours left to collect signatures, organizers of the recall effort against District Attorney Colleen Truden feel “very good” about their chances of meeting the 5,455-name requirement needed to force an election.
Jeff Cheney, a former deputy district attorney under Truden who has helped lead the recall campaign after resigning, also welcomed Chip McCrory as a candidate should Truden be recalled.
McCrory, a longtime lawyer in the valley who was formerly the No. 2 prosecutor in the 9th Judicial District, said his interest in running stems from a lack of trust in Truden’s administration, not from public input.
“Unless and until they get called in for jury duty or it’s a family member who’s involved in the court system either as a victim or a defendant, I don’t think the public really knows that much of what’s going on in the courthouse,” he said.
Indeed, Cheney said the welcome mat was not exactly laid out for recall proponents when some of them traveled to Rio Blanco County last weekend to gather names. The region has had little awareness or interest in the DA controversy.
“I heard they were not friendly,” Cheney said of people attending the Meeker sheepdog championship, where petitioners set up shop Saturday. “They were not receptive to (the recall).”
But defense attorneys and others in the legal business in Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties ” and most of the seven prosecutors who quit under Truden ” know all too well what jurisprudence is like under Truden, McCrory said.
“Those of us who are in it have lost faith,” he said. “Not just defense attorneys. There’s a lot of people who are in the system, everyone from court clerks to police officers, who have opinions about (Truden), but they are not going to express them.”
He said a jury trial a few weeks ago in county court in Rifle was an example.
“The jury was out for about 15 minutes and came back wanting to know why in the hell this case was tried and (why) they were having their time wasted,” McCrory said. “That’s when the public gets their own opinions about what’s going on.”
He said his decision to run in the event of a recall election was made about two weeks ago. His involvement in the recall campaign hasn’t been extensive because of his late entry, but he said he has gotten a few petitions signed.
McCrory wasn’t sure how the recall campaign has fared since Truden opponents launched their petition drive in mid-July.
“They’ve gotten more than the minimum (number of signatures), but of course the question is, how many of those are good?” he said.
Since taking over in January, the district attorney has incurred a hornet’s nest of condemnation. The veracity of Truden’s statements to county commissioners has been questioned, and she has been severely criticized for hiring her husband to do computer work in her office and for the management of her budget.
Cheney said the final days of gathering signatures are proceeding well.
“It’s outstanding, actually,” he said.
At least 5,455 signatures of registered voters in the three-county judicial district must be on petitions to trigger a recall election.
Cheney wouldn’t say how many names campaign organizers think they have. The final tally will be released after the last petitions are collected, likely Thursday evening or Friday morning.
On Friday, recall proponents will drive the petitions to the secretary of state’s office in Denver. Staffers at the office will go through each signature and disallow any that do not conform to the state statute that governs recall petitions. The office will then announce whether a recall is warranted.
“We’re already organized and we already have a plan for delivery,” Cheney said. “There are a lot of people who want to sign and we’re going to work until the final whistle blows.”
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