DA candidates for Colorado’s 9th: Why you should vote for me
October 17, 2016
The following is the final of five questions posed by The Aspen Times to the three candidates for 9th Judicial District attorney. The candidates include current District Attorney Sherry Caloia, a Democrat; Jefferson Cheney, a Republican; and Chip McCrory, an independent.
The 9th Judicial District includes Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.
Question: Ask yourself a question and answer it.
What skills or experience do you bring to the office that your opponents may not have?
I have greater experience in hands-on legal work and in the understanding of how the DA's Office should work.
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I started my legal career prosecuting criminal cases in the western half of the Denver area. In the four years there, I learned how to assist the police in investigating "big-city" crimes including rape and murder, and how to win those cases at trial. When I ran the Aspen DA's Office for 12 years, I learned the skills of a small-town lawyer in knowing the people and outlook of the community. I learned to interact with the community, including defendants, who were never shy in letting me know their opinions, sometimes including their personal views of my habits and ancestry. Besides trying cases, I ran the grand jury, trained new DAs and taught at the police academy.
I then moved to criminal defense for the last 19 years. This has given me greater understanding of the impacts of crime on both victims and defendants. It also has given me a broader understanding of what the district attorney should be, and frequently is not. I have a wealth of experience in the criminal law.
The DA must balance the ability to be tough on criminals with an understanding of human failings. The DA must be accessible to the police and the public, but must also be able to act contrary to popular opinion when the interests of justice require. I have both more DA experience and defense experience than both of my opponents combined, and the life experience and judgment to meet these contradictory goals.
Why should people vote for Jeff Cheney for district attorney?
Integrity, leadership and experience are three characteristics that I have more so than my opponents. I am a husband, father, citizen-soldier, community leader and community volunteer. Not only am I a veteran prosecutor, but I'm also a veteran of the Armed Forces, having fought for our nation in war. I am a trained leader and believe in "servant leadership," which means I will never ask of another to do what I'm not willing to do myself. I have over 10 years of prosecution experience and I have served at all levels at the District Attorney's Office acting as the first assistant district attorney to the elected district attorney for seven years. I have successfully tried murder, sexual assault, domestic violence and drunken driving cases before juries. I have hired, trained and mentored nearly a dozen prosecutors, many of whom have gone on to higher levels in the legal profession such as being appointed judges. I have trained law enforcement and victim's advocacy groups all over the state. I will not let petty politics, personality conflicts, partisanship or philosophical differences prevent me from fulfilling my professional obligation to work with anyone and everyone involved in the criminal justice system to deliver the best prosecution and victim advocacy services, police reports, surveillance videos, etc.
Why should the public vote for you and not your opponents?
I have been DA for four years now. My initial goals were to bring common sense and good judgment to the job. I have done that. My goal was to make sure that the Aspen office is staffed with very competent attorneys who would be respected in the community. I have done that. I have run the office with exceptional staff that are so well thought of that some of my top people have been offered better and higher paying positions. My office operates as a team and I have improved the conviction rate at trial to 75 percent.
My opponents have no experience in running a law office with staff or in running a government office. Jeff Cheney wishes to take us back to the way the office was run in 2012. He has not had a job for the last year and was not successful in private practice. Chip McCrory has practiced by himself without staff or partners for the last 19 years. When he was with the DA's Office 19 years ago, he did not get along with other attorneys. He is what I call a "lone wolf" and is better placed in his one-man operation.